NC Banks On Abdullah's Charisma And Young Faces

8 November 2008
The Hindu

Srinagar: National Conference, which was rejected by the people of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in 2002 polls, is now banking on the charisma of its patron Farooq Abdullah and several fresh faces to storm back to power in the ensuing Assembly elections. Abdullah, who was in political hibernation for some time, has now returned to active politics and is contesting the elections from Hazratbal constituency instead of the prestigious Ganderbal - a seat he has represented three times in a row between 1983 to 1996. Instead, party president and Abdullah's son Omar Abdullah has been fielded from the Ganderbal constituency, where he had suffered a setback in 2002 Assembly polls when he lost to PDP candidate Qazi Mohammad Afzal. Although National Conference emerged as the single largest party in 2002 polls, it was a huge blow to the party as Omar lost the elections to a political novice in the constituency, considered as NC bastion. Party insiders there was a lot of discussions in the party whether to field the father or the son from Ganderbal, but in the end it was decided that Omar be given a chance to prove its mettle in state politics. While announcing the party candidates for the 79 of the 87 constituencies in the state assembly, the National Conference fielded several veterans and sitting parliament members besides giving tickets to as many as 30 fresh faces hoping to turn the tide. The party has given chance to 22 new comers in Kashmir Valley, one in Ladakh region and 13 in Jammu region.