Omar resigns, Governor asks him to continue

28 July 2009
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: On a day of high drama, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today tendered his resignation to Governor N N Vohra asking him to go into a senior PDP leader's allegation of his involvement in the 2006 sex scandal and accept it if he was guilty. The Governor is reported to have observed that he would be able to consider Omar's resignation only after being fully informed about the details of the allegation against him and verifying its basis. The Governor has asked Omar to continue to discharge his responsibilities as Chief Minister till a final decision is taken, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said in a statement. Vohra, who was on his way to the airport to leave for Delhi to attend to certain engagements, deferred his departure on receiving a message that the Chief Minister wanted to meet him urgently. The spokesperson said Omar requested the Governor to inquire on a time-bound basis into the allegations made against his moral character by former Deputy Chief Minister Muzzafar Hussain Beigh, a PDP MLA, in the Assembly today and to 'immediately accept his resignation in case the Governor is satisfied that there is any basis therein.' An emotional Omar drove to the Governor's residence at 3 PM shortly after announcing in the Assembly that he will submit his resignation and stay out of office till his name is cleared, refusing to yield to pleas by National Conference and Congress MLAs not to step down. Those who lead must not only be clean but also look to be clean. At the end of the day, one has one's personal credibility and self respect. Both of these Mr Beigh tried to snatch from me through the charges he levelled,' Omar said in his resignation letter. 'I would be grateful, if you could enquire into the allegations against me in a time-bound manner and if you are satisfied that there is any basis in these allegations please accept my resignation immediately,' he said. Omar said he wanted to keep his conscience clean and did not want to carry this stigma on his mind 'because I have always believed that politics should be clean and based on high standards of morality'. 'I will always continue to strive for rich traditions which I have inherited from my grandfather Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and my father Dr Farooq Abdullah', he said. Speculation that he will replace his son as CM were brushed aside by NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah, saying 'there is no truth in it'. Farooq said Omar had taken the decision as he felt his honour was at stake. The whole drama began today when Beigh alleged that Omar was involved in the infamous Srinagar sex scandal, which was investigated by the CBI. The scandal surfaced in 2006 when police arrested a woman, Sabina. During interrogation, she told police that she used to send girls including minors to politicians and senior bureaucrats and policemen, triggering a political storm in the State. Beigh claimed he had a list of people involved in the scandal in which Omar figured at No.102 while his father Farooq Abdullah's name was at serial number 38. In New Delhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram said there is one case in which the FIR was registered on March 14, 2006. The CBI investigated the case and filed a chargesheet against 17 accused. The case is now before the District and Sessions Judge in Chandigarh. 'The CBI has concluded the investigations. Omar Abdullah's name does not figure in the 17 accused,' Chidambaram said. CBI sources also said there was no such list as alluded by Beigh and that all necessary action in the case had been taken. Two former Ministers of PDP-Congress Government-G A Mir and Raman Mattoo - and Iqbal Khandey, a former aide of the then Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, were among those arrested. An upset Omar said in the Assembly, 'I know it is a false allegation. But I want to resign. Till I am cleared of this false allegation, I cannot work....It is a blot on my character.' 'Any amount of investigation by the Home Department will not help,' the 39-year-old National Conference leader said, a statement that shocked his party MLAs and Ministers. Omar was accompanied by Farooq, who is a Union Minister, to Raj Bhavan besides his political advisor Davender Rana. The MLAs and Ministers tried to physically restrain Omar from going out of the Assembly, telling him not to resign and that the party would not accept it. Omar, who came to power in January this year as the head of a NC-Congress coalition, was virtually forced to take his seat by the ruffled members but he got up to shout at them saying 'allow me to take this first step'. Rana said the entire legislative party of the National Conference and the Congress tried hard to persuade Omar not to resign. 'We all stood up for him...But he said no'. Referring to the CBI probe into the scandal and asserting that the guilty had not been punished, Beigh said in the Assembly, 'I have to say with regret, there is the name of Omar Abdullah, son of Farooq Abdullah, in the list. He has lost the moral authority to rule the State. He must resign.' The issue figured shortly after the Question Hour ended in the House which yesterday witnessed pandemonium after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti wrenched a mike from the Speaker's podium protesting over the Shopian rape and murder issue. In his response, an emotionally-charged Omar, said he had not expected 'things to fall to such depths'. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad described the resignation as unfortunate. The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister told mediapersons here that both the yesterday's incident in which PDP leader Mahbooba Mufti threw mike of the Assembly Speaker and today's development of Chief Minister's resignation were 'unfortunate.' Meanwhile, Pradesh Congress chief Prof Saifuddin Soz has ruled out Governor's Rule in the State and said the party was keeping a close watch on the emerging situation. 'There is no question of Governor's Rule. The Congress and National Conference (NC) are together. We will find a way out of the crisis,' he said. Prof Soz said the Chief Minister should have 'fought' politically and not given his resignation. However, now that he has tendered his resignation, it was between him and the Governor. He said the Congress was with Mr Abdullah's NC in this hour of difficulty. He expressed confidence that Mr Abdullah would only come out strengthened as 'he is on high moral ground.' Congress In-charge of State Prithviraj Chavan has spoken to Omar Abdullah asking him not to resign as it was a trap to get him out of office, party sources said here. Chavan has also spoken to Omar's father Dr Farooq Abdullah so that he stops him from resigning, they added. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel are also likely to talk to Omar to urge him not to go ahead with his threat to quit, the sources said. The Congress leaders swung into action after Omar left the Assembly in a huff threatening to resign when PDP leaders alleged his involvement in a sex scandal. In a joint meeting of legislature parties of the NC- Congress coalition partners which met in Srinagar today under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, the legislators expressed their full confidence and trust in the leadership of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The coalition partners condemned in strong terms the baseless and malicious allegations levelled against the Chief Minister by PDP MLA, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh. google_protectAndRun('ads_core.google_render_ad', google_handleError, google_render_ad);