Farooq steps down as NC President
11 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Dr Farooq Abdullah has resigned as president of the ruling National Conference to pave way for the election of the new party chief on June 23 next. By all indications, his successor would be none else than the only son, Omar Abdullah, who will continue to be Minister of State for External Affairs in the Vajpayee-led NDA Government at Centre. According to party sources, Dr Abdullah tendered his resignation to NC general secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmed here on Monday. As provided in Article 11 of NC’s Constitution, senior vice president Chuni Lal Khajuria has taken over as Working president of the party. It had been already decided in NC’s Working Committee meeting, held in April in Jammu, that new president would be elected. The meeting had hailed Mr Omar Abdullah’s highly impressive performance as MoS Commerce and External Affairs in the Union Government and formally invited him to rise as the new top incumbent. Sheikh Nazir has accepted Dr Abdullah’s resignation which, as per the party constitution, has come 15 days before the election of the new president. He has appointed senior NC leader, Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah as the Returning Officer and set into motion the process for electing the new president. Sources said that 12,000 delegates of the party—comprising the Electoral College— would attend the Delegate Session at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium at Sonwar on June 23 and elect the new president. Omar is likely to be elected unopposed as, so far, no other leader has emerged as contender for the top party position. He will be filing his nomination papers later this week. Though both Dr Abdullah as well as Omar, are likely to continue as J&K Chief Minister and Union MoS External Affairs respectively, this season is being viewed as the end of the former’s political career in the State. Now that, in a dramatic development, Mr Abdul Kalam has emerged as the NDA Government’s Presidential nominee, there are no chances of Dr Abdullah’s occupying the post of the Vice President of India. Nevertheless, NC circles here are confidant that Dr Abdullah— possessing the qualification of being a Kashmiri Muslim and a man of statesmanship— would be considered for key positions like the External Affairs Minister, India’s permanent representative to UN or the head of Indian Mission in USA. Dr Abdullah had been elected as NC’s president months before his father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s death in September 1982. His resignation is widely seen as prelude to Mr Omar Abdullah’s emerging as the new Chief Ministerial candidate in the forthcoming Assembly elections.