Farooq offered ‘envoy at large’
27 June 2002
H Bula Devi
New Delhi: An “Ambassador at large” is what the Centre may now have in mind for Dr Farooq Abdullah. A top slot in the Cabinet is unlikely to be made available to him and his prospects for the vice-presidentship had dimmed some time ago. This would enable him to enjoy the status of a Cabinet minister without actually being inducted into it. The precise scope and nature of his duties are yet to be concretised but it is expected that if he accepts the offer he would be used for important diplomatic assignments such as carrying India’s messages to various governments abroad. His moving to Delhi to accept a ceremonially important post would facilitate his son Omar taking over as the J&K chief minister and leading the National Conference’s campaign in the coming elections in that capacity. Not holding an office with day-to- day commitments would enable Dr Abdullah to continue to play a role in the political affairs of J&K — a field in which his son is still on a learning curve. Cabinet status is frequently accorded to political appointees in major diplomatic positions, sources said. There is also some speculation Dr Abdullah might be made a “minister without a portfolio”. But, that would require him getting elected to Parliament within six months of his assuming office. However, the question arises if he would have to function under the umbrella of the external affairs ministry which might not be to his liking. It is also possible that his appointment would be treated in the same way as Mr Agnihotri’s being made the Ambassador at large for NRIs — which didn’t comply with the prescribed norms, sources pointed out. Blast claims three: Three soldiers were killed today when militants triggered a landmine planted in Chandanwari, en route to Amarnath. Panun Kashmir: The Panun Kashmir Movement asked Kashmiri Hindus to boycott the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state, saying it will not give any guarantee for their resettlement.