Farooq Abdullah ready to become Jammu and Kashmir chief minister

December 29th, 2008 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Dec 29 (IANS) As the National Conference (NC) prepares to work out an alliance with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir after emerging as the single largest party in the assembly polls, party patron Farooq Abdullah reiterated Monday that he will become the next chief minister, though the Congress has not yet said who it will support for the post.As the NC managed to retain the 28 seats it won in the 2002 elections, Farooq Abdullah said he was ready to shake hands with the Congress, which managed to get 17 seats, to give the troubled state its second coalition government. The coalition will have 45 seats, one above the halfway mark.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to hold talks with former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior party leader from the state Saifuddin Soz in New Delhi Monday afternoon.

The party’s stand on the coalition is likely to be declared after that meeting, though there are reports already that the Congress would prefer to support NC president Omar Abdullah rather than his father Farooq for the chieh minister’s post.

But by telling a television channel how he expected his father “to deliver the goods this time”, Omar has already indicated that Farooq is the NC’s chief ministerial candidate. The elder Abdullah has been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir thrice before.

Party sources here told IANS that Omar had spoken to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi after the poll results became clear Sunday evening.

“The younger generations of the two families have decided to forget the bitterness of the past and work for the future of the state that needs special attention because of the prevailing situation here,” a NC leader said.

Although the NC is ready to mark a new chapter in its relationship with the Congress, Farooq Abdullah, who has held the state’s reins three times, made it clear that he and not the Congress candidate will be the chief minister.

While Farooq Abdullah won from both Hazratbal and Sonawar in Srinagar, his son avenged his 2002 defeat in Ganderbal in north Kashmir, defeating the very same PDP nominee who had humiliated him six years ago.

The Congress is unlikely to forge an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, which bagged 21 seats as against the NC’s 28.

“Sayeed will find it difficult to approach the Congress for an alliance despite some well-wishers like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The Congress plus the PDP does not get to the halfway mark anyway, and any such coalition will need support from independents.

“The NC’s number of seats and the fact that Ghulam Nabi Azad is a strong advocate for aligning with the NC makes things very clear,” a political analyst said.

NC sources said the party will stake claim to power soon after working out the details of the alliance with the Congress.

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