Election And Kashmir Row Not Linked: Farooq Abdullah

5 November 2008

Srinagar: Former chief minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah yesterday said the elections were not to solve the 60-year-old Kashmir issue. “The elections are not for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. These are for good governance and if the people want good governance, they must come out in strength to vote,” Abdullah told reporters here. Jammu and Kashmir, which is under governor’s rule, will vote in seven-phased polls to elect a new 87-member assembly. The first phase takes place on November 17. The final round will be held on December 24 and votes will be counted on December 28. Abdullah hoped that his National Conference, which was routed in the 2002 elections, would again come to power on its own. The National Conference, led by the Abdullah family, has ruled the state off and on in the last 60 years. “I am sure our party would get an absolute majority in the assembly on its own to form a stable government in the state,” the former chief minister said. Abdullah said his party would decide in a day or two whether he should contest the elections from Hazratbal or Sonawar constituency of the Srinagar district. The National Conference had won from both these constituencies in the last elections. Meanwhile, his son and party president Omar Abdullah addressing party workers here said he personally favoured his father fighting the elections from the Hazratbal constituency, a National Conference bastion. The junior Abdullah accused the previous coalition government of rampant corruption in the state. “What the previous government called working in double shifts (for developmental tasks) was actually working in double shifts for corruption,” he said. The party president said the coalition politics had “completely failed” in Jammu and Kashmir and “that is why the people must elect a single party government with absolute majority.” “There was misgovernance and people were made to suffer at every level,” he said. He declared that the party had decided to field former finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather from the Chrar-e-Sharief constituency and senior leader Ali Muhammad Dar from Chadura constituency of Badgam district.