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Kashmiris’ hope in Omar
Srinagar, Dec 30 (IANS):
Published on 31 Dec. 2008 2:02 AM IST
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The Congress endorsement of Omar Abdullah as the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday was received with relief by National Conference supporters here. The common man now hopes the new head of the state government will deliver better than his predecessors. "It is a victory for the National Conference (NC) and we are relieved to hear the news. The Congress and our party will definitely do better and live up to the expectations of those who voted us to power jointly," said Gulam Ahmad Saloora, a NC leader. There was a visible jubilation in the NC camp as the news poured in from New Delhi that the Congress had decided to form an alliance with the regional party. Party supporters started gathering at the Gupkar houses of NC president Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah, the party patron. On the other hand, there was palpable gloom in the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) camp even though its president Mehbooba Mufti accepted the new alliance with stoic realism. "We have been given the mandate to sit in the opposition and we shall now play the role of a constructive opposition," Mehbooba said while reacting to the announcement that the Congress high command had decided to form a coalition government with her rival the NC. But common people in the summer capital of the state mostly favoured the younger Abdullah as the chief minister. "We have tried Farooq (Abdullah). He was non-serious most of the times. Omar starts his innings with a clean slate. He will have to prove himself and he has the capacity to work hard as well," said Mehraj-ud-Din, a fruit seller on Residency Road in Srinagar. Others, however, believed the new chief minister, who happens to be the youngest in the state's history, had an uphill task ahead of him. "He is just 38. He is energetic, but he needs a lot of good luck and support to live up to the expectations of the people who voted his party as the single largest in the assembly," said Gulam Nabi, 65, a resident of Ganderbal from where Abdullah regained his lost glory by defeating the same rival, Qazi Muhammad Afzal of the PDP, who had defeated him in the 2002 election. The younger generation is definitely enthused by Abdullah's elevation. "The days of the old generation are over. We voted for him and he has the right understanding of what the new generation of Kashmiris expects from him," said Haroon Wani, 26, also from Ganderbal. NC supporters gathered at the Ganderbal office of the party where activists burst fire-crackers after TV channels flashed news of the tie-up.

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