Omar To Stay Put In J&K, Not Keen On Moving To Centre

Omar To Stay Put In J&K, Not Keen On Moving To Centre

26 March 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah may not contradict his father and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah but he doesn't have any intention of moving to the Centre. Farooq's statement that Omar might shift to the Centre and serve under Rahul Gandhi if the UPA-III comes to power has stirred the political cauldron in the state. Is Farooq testing the waters in the state or has he inadvertently given a handle to political opponents ahead of the Lok Sabha and subsequently the Assembly elections? Or is it a plan to hand over the chief ministership to someone else from the party or to the coalition partner Congress? These questions have cropped up. No easy answers are available at this point of time. As far as Omar is concerned, he is firm that he will stay in the state, where he has invested past six years as Chief Minister and seen many ups and downs. In his interview to The Tribune last week, Omar had stated categorically that he 'doesn't have any intention of shifting to the Centre', implying that he would stay put in the state. He is already campaigning for a second term for himself and his party, the National Conference, much before the Assembly elections. He is using the Lok Sabha poll campaign as a pedestal for this objective. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah had stated in an interview in New Delhi on Tuesday that 'Omar will be very ready to join that government under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.' 'It could be. If that situation arises and he (Rahul) feels that he needs Omar for his work, I am sure Omar will not hide away,' Farooq said when asked if his son Omar would come to Delhi and be part of the government under Rahul in case the UPA-III came to power. Omar, who served as a minister (1999-2002) in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said: 'I am in a minority and hence cannot hope to have higher ambitions.' That was last week. 'Jammu and Kashmir contributes only six Lok Sabha seats, had the state had 40-45 (Lok Sabha) seats, I could have given a thought (to the idea of bigger ambitions),' he had stated, implying that he had his own political reasons to be in the state. 'I am a realist,' he had told The Tribune. It is a well known fact that Omar and Rahul are very good friends. The pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the National Conference for the parliamentary elections would not have been there but for their friendship which often translates into a political bond between the two and their respective parties. Farooq's statement at this point of time must have been music to Rahul's ears, who is seen as a prospective Prime Minister if the UPA III comes to power, but it has sent mixed signals to the political circles in the state. It has give rise to a question. What next?