Farooq changes mind, to remain CM till elections
19 July 2002
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Backtracking on his earlier announcements that he will retire from active politics, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Friday said he will contest the forthcoming Assembly elections and continue in office till the polls. ''I will fight the coming elections as chief minister. I had decided to retire from active politics, but party workers insisted that I should continue till the elections,'' he told the state Assembly on its concluding day of the last session of the present legislature. Dr Abdullah, however, did not clarify whether he would be in the running for the top post of the state after the elections. Though he has repeatedly stated that he will retire from politics, his statement on Friday effectively put at rest speculation that his son and Union minister of state for external affairs Omar Abdullah would succeed him as the chief minister ahead of the elections. Dr Abdullah assured the House that the ensuing elections would be free, fair and democratic under his dispensation. ''Let the Election Commission depute as many staff and forces as it likes for the elections, we will not be a hurdle in the discharge of their duties,'' he said. ''They (the Election Commission) want to deploy outside staff at each and every booth in the state during the elections, let them do it,'' he said and added that his party will still emerge victorious. Referring to the 1996 Assembly elections in the state which was held under governorís rule, he said the situation then was so bad that even free movement of public was not possible. But today, the situation is different, he added.