The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Farooq gives up seat for son

Srinagar, Aug. 30: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has bowed out from the Ganderbal constituency here in favour of his son and National Conference president Omar Abdullah.

Party sources, however, said the chief minister “will be our star campaigner during the Assembly polls in the state”. Farooq will now be moving to the Rajya Sabha, adds PTI.

Today, the party released the second list of candidates for the second of the four-phase election in the state, in which, 27 Assembly segments in the districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Jammu will go to polls.

The list of candidates for the second phase was finalised at a meeting of the party’s central election board, whose members include Farooq, Omar, and National Conference general secretary Shiekh Nazir Ahmad, besides other party activists. Barring few new faces, the party has retained the sitting MLAs on the list.

In 1980, late Sheikh Abdullah had handed over the reigns of the party to his eldest son Farooq by appointing him president of the National Conference.

He also inducted him into the Cabinet where Farooq was given charge of the health department. After the death of his father in 1982, Farooq fought his first Assembly elections from Ganderbal in 1983.

Till then, Shiekh Abdullah had represented the constituency for his party after re-joining mainstream politics.

Farooq has so far contested and won three elections from Ganderbal and was the unchallenged front-runner from this constituency. The locals of Ganderbal, however, allege that Farooq did not visit the constituency even once after he won the elections in 1996.

Farooq’s decision to abstain from elections is bound to create a void within the National Conference, though he will be its main campaigner during the polls.

With the party opting for old guards rather than infusing new blood, which Omar wanted, the latter will have a tough time managing party affairs, which remain heavily loaded with old timers, most of whom have shared platforms with the legendary Sheikh.

Omar drives taxi

Omar today drove a taxi to reach his election rally. On his arrival at the far-flung region of Gurez in Kashmir, Omar was escorted to a waiting taxi, which would have taken him to the venue. The minister of state for external affairs, however, chose to drive the taxi himself as he was getting late for the meeting, reports PTI.

Confirming this, Omar said: “Well, I want to reach to as many people as I can. The time was less and I decided to drive the taxi myself so that I could not blame anyone for the delay.”

He said his party was closely monitoring the expenditure during the electioneering so that “we leave no room for the Opposition parties to create a drama”.

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