Omar to head National Conference-Congress government in Jammu and Kashmir (Lead)

December 30th, 2008 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Suspense over the new government in Jammu and Kashmir ended Tuesday with the National Conference and the Congress confirming their alliance to rule the state, with Omar Abdullah as the next chief minister.The announcement was made after Abdullah, the National Conference head, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the national capital.

The assembly election results Sunday threw up a fractured mandate with no single party getting the 44 legislators needed to form a government.

The National Conference, which emerged as the single largest party in the newly elected assembly, has 28 legislators. The Congress has 17. The two parties together make 45 - one above the required number.

“We proposed a coalition government to Sonia ji, which was accepted by her. There will be a coalition government of the Congress and the National Conference in the state. Omar Abdullah will be the next chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir,” senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan told reporters after the meeting.

Chavan is the All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of the state.

Abdullah, flanking Chavan as they spoke to the media, said: “I called on Sonia Gandhi and laid out the situation that has arisen out of the election verdict. I proposed to her that the cleanest formula would be a coalition government of the Congress and the National Conference. I am happy Sonia Gandhi accepted this proposal.”

The National Conference president said the Congress would be an equal partner in the government.

“The Congress will form a part of the government. It is going to be government of equal partnership and I look forward to work closely with the Congress to fulfill the expectations of people of the state,” he said.

Asked to spell out government formation details, Abdullah said: “Till now, the only thing that has been decided is that I will head the government. The rest of the modalities will be finalised later after discussions with the people appointed by the Congress and my party for the purpose.”

Senior Congress leaders Saifuddin Soz and Ghulam Nabi Azad were also present with Omar and Chavan while the announcement was made.

In Srinagar, the National Conference camp began celebrating the return to power.

Abdullah’s father and patron of the National Conference Farooq Abdullah said Omar will herald a new era of development in the state.

“I am confident that Omar will take Jammu and Kashmir in the right direction. It is the beginning of new era in development of state and for better relation between India and Pakistan,” the senior Abdullah told reporters in Srinagar.

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