July 2002 News

Son''s reluctance forces Farooq to stay on

22 July 2002
The Hindu

SRINAGAR: Ranging from Omar Abdullah''s reluctance to take over as Chief Minister to pressure from seniors in the National Conference (NC), many factors are responsible for Farooq Abdullah''s announcement that he will continue to head the Jammu and Kashmir Government at least till the elections. The last week of July was supposed to see developments taking place rapidly if the earlier reports of Dr. Farooq Abdullah having decided to hand over the reins of power to his son were true. Some reports even suggested that Mr. Omar Abdullah would recommend Governor''s rule and pave way for what is called a ''more credible electoral process''. However, the senior Abdullah''s announcement at the end of the just-concluded brief session of the State Assembly, as also his outburst against New Delhi on Sunday, negate this. Prior to the Assembly session, he was in London for about two weeks and is believed to have discussed his future plans with his wife. Mr. Omar Abdullah''s reluctance to take over as Chief Minister is stated to be the major factor behind Dr. Abdullah''s continuance in office. In an informal chat with The Hindu, Mr. Omar confirmed that he did not want to take over at this juncture and rather wanted to concentrate on making the party more vibrant to face the electoral challenge. ''Yes, I am not interested as I cannot do justice to both the things and, more importantly, I want to be in that chair with my own mandate though the spectacular achievement of the National Conference Government during the past six years is something big to bank upon in the elections,'' he said. Mr. Omar, sources say, wants to build up his own image and start afresh, linking it to his performance as Union Minister. Since Mr. Omar is seized of the ''performance'' of some of the State Ministers, who are alleged to have amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income, he is not ready to start his career as Chief Minister with a team selected by someone else. Dr. Abdullah said at a function that the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Abdur Rashid Dar, had advised him to quit and pave the way for Mr. Omar. Mr. Dar later had to face the wrath of the senior Ministers, Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari and Ali Mohammad Sagar, who sought an explanation from him. A group of senior Ministers in the NC would certainly like to have a ''generous'' person like Dr. Farooq as the Chief Minister who could hardly make them accountable.


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