M A I N   N E W S

Omar turns people-centric at 5-hour interactive meet
Arun Joshi/TNS

Jammu, May 22
It was meant to be a CM's show at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre, Srinagar on Monday evening. But it came with a difference: from 4 pm to 9.45 pm, Omar Abdullah looked reflective, unusually self-effacing, his gravitas lurching to a more down-to-earth approach than what has been in evidence since he came to power three years ago.

The CM was interacting with civil society members, who like him, looked equally weighed down by the deaths of 368 infants at Srinagar's GB Pant Hospital, the seemingly unending power outages, the rains and snow that have damaged the fruit crop.

"The CM appeared a changed person," remarked Haji Jan Mohammad Koul, president Kashmir Traders Federation. "After all, the unprecedented five-hour interaction was a two-way traffic, where Omar took notes and appeared people-centric, laughed and made us to laugh too," said Koul.

Many recall the 2010 unrest when he was repeatedly advised by Home Minister P Chidambarm to "reach out to the people". Or the taunts he received for not visiting Shopian after the alleged rape and murder of two women there. In that backdrop, Omar's latest initiative with the people is seen as a sort of new beginning for him.

Omar is no longer "a happy to be CM" kind, said a ministerial colleague. Omar is aware he is facing a tough political competition both from within the coalition government and outside. That's perhaps why he has gone back to the basics of politics: the people.





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