Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today announced that he would quit politics. Dr Abdullah made this surprise announcement during the course of his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the Governor's address in the State Legislative Assembly this afternoon.
In his speech highlighting his Government's achievements, he said: "Let me tell you that I am not going to contest the next election. I am going to resign the post of Chief Minister and party president at the end of my current term. I want to spend sometime with my family."
Dr Abdullah's announcement drew protests from his party's members who were heard saying "no, no". He told them to search for a new party leader before his term expired. The 61-year-old Chief Minister said he wanted to spend time with his family and would pray for the "peace and prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir. "
The announcement took everyone by surprise. Dr Abdullah's current term in the Assembly expires in Sept. 2002. The State Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir has a six-year term due to a constitutional amendment which came into force during the emergency.
Dr Abdullah has been the party president since 1980 and first became Chief Minister in Sept. 1982 following the death of his father Mr Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He won the June 1983 elections with a thumping majority but his government was dismissed in July 1984 only to be restored in November 1986.
The National Conference in alliance with the Congress had contested elections in March 1987 and Dr Abdullah became the Chief Minister for the third time. His Government resigned in January 1990 to protest against the nomination of Mr Jagmohan as Governor of the State. After remaining out of the state's political scene for almost four years, Dr Abdullah once again led his party in the 1994 and 1996 Assembly elections.
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