Still coming to terms with results: Omar

SRINAGAR: As National Conference-Congress alliance was badly defeated in the Parliamentary elections in the state, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday accepted responsibility for the defeat, saying “it’s going to be a very tall order to bounce back from here.”
“I think next three or four months are not going to be easy. Clearly it’s going to be a very tall order to bounce back from here. It is not impossible but it will be extremely difficult. I think a lot will depend on how objective we are taking on board the lessons this election defeat should to learn and how, sort of, we implement those lessons,” Omar said at a hurriedly convened press conference at his residence here.
Omar accepted the defeat in the elections and said they had not expected “this kind of results” for them. “I don’t think anyone expected this kind of election results,” Omar, who is also NC’s acting president, said.
“I mean a lot of you who are objective observers were willing to give us at least one (seat) and some of you were giving two. I didn’t meet anyone who was willing to give us three. This kind of result has not entirely expected. It has come as a huge shock to us and I can’t stress the points more strongly enough.
“There are obviously very important lessons to be learnt,” Omar said.
‘2010 agitation, Afzal hanging may have played part’
Omar also admitted that the summer uprising of 2010 and hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru may have played part in the election defeat for them.
“We haven’t been able to analyze exactly why, but I dare to say these both factors (2010 uprising and Afzal Guru hanging) will have played a part. There can be no denying that the PDP made some of these issues the cornerstone of their election campaign…,” Omar said.
Asked if he was willing to step down as the Chief Minister to take the responsibility, Omar said, “This is a Parliament election. This is not an Assembly election, and I have accepted responsibility for the performance of the alliance in the election. Beyond that should I continue or not is a question, to be honest with you, that I am still grabbling with. It is not something that has clear cut answers.”
“I also need to recognize that that is a decision my party and my alliance have to take. I am taking responsibility. I am not shying away from accepting responsibility. This is my defeat more than anybody else’s,” Omar said.
He said if his party would decide him to do (resign) he will have “no hesitation” to do it.
On a query whether the ruling NC will change the Chief Ministerial candidate and will there be alliance with Congress in the upcoming Assembly elections, Omar said it has to be decided by his party.
“I think both the questions I am not in a position to answer for you right now. Will the NC change its Chief Ministerial candidate is for the NC to decide. I was not a Chief Ministerial candidate in the 2008. I don’t know what the party will decide in 2014. I have always been loyal soldier of the NC,” he said.
“And the alliance with the Congress is slightly tougher question to answer. Obviously in the course of analyzing setback that we have faced in the elections we will look at the totally of our relationship with the Congress the way with we approached in this election together we will take a decision in due course of time and one hasn’t been taken right now.”
Omar said he had not expected one-sided result in the elections and the results would have far reaching consequences for the party.
“Truth to be told, this is not the press conference I had expected to be given here. While I know that we had difficult challenges I didn’t expect this comprehensive one-sided result…but we accept the verdict with all humility,” Omar said.
He said the verdict obviously would have far reaching implications for them and for the state of J&K.
“Clearly the way, in which we approached in this election, the way in which we fought in this election about Parliament more than about state is something that has cost us,” he said.
“I haven’t been able to sit down and look at the results assembly segment by assembly segment right now I am purely reacting on the basis of the factor that we are losing all the parliament segments. We will obviously, over the course of time, sit down with party colleagues and analyze the results.”
Extending his congratulations to the victorious candidates, Omar said he hoped the elected representatives would represent the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the Parliament.
He said the defeat in the elections is not the end of National Conference.
“This is not the end of National Conference, same way the defeat of PDP in 2009 was not the end of the PDP. PDP didn’t become irrelevant because they lost three Parliament seats in Kashmir five years ago. And in the same way NC won’t become irrelevant if we have lost three Parliament seats in the Valley today. It is a setback. It is a serious setback but it is not the end of NC,” Omar said.