July 2002 News

Farooq first choice for CM: Omar

21 July 2002
The Times of India

Srinagar: National Conference chief Omar Abdullah on Sunday said his father Farooq Abdullah would be the first choice for chief ministership in the event of his party''s victory in the coming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, notification for which was likely to be issued by the middle of next month. Farooq Abdullah would contest the elections and would be the first choice for the chief ministership if he agreed to, Omar, Minister of State for External Affairs, said at a party function here. If his father declined the offer, National Conference would decide the chief ministerial candidate, Omar, who airdashed here from Delhi to admit Congress MLA R S Sharma from Nowshehra into the party, said. ''The notification for the Assembly polls is likely to be issued by August 13 or 14,'' he said. Launching an attack on the state Congress, he said ''they want to join hands with those who are responsible for bloodshed in the state.'' Omar said elections to the 87-member Assembly will be free, fair and transparent. On autonomy to the state, the main poll plank of the party in 1996, Omar said granting greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir did not mean separation of the state from India. ''The ties between the state and rest of the country will get further strengthened if the autonomy is granted to Jammu and Kashmir,'' he said.


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