Srinagar- Veteran politician and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Friday announced that he would step down as president of the National Conference next month, saying it is time to hand over the mantle to the new generation.
Holding the post for nearly four decades except for seven years beginning 2002, the 85-year-old Abdullah is expected to continue as patron of the party and guide it especially during the first assembly elections after the state was downgraded to a union territory. No dates for the polls have been announced so far.
There is widespread speculation that his son Omar Abdullah, currently the party’s vice-president, is likely to succeed him as the new chief. Omar was elected as party president in 2002 and he continued to remain at the helm of affairs till 2009 after which he resigned because he was elected the chief minister of the erstwhile state.
“I will not be contesting for the post of president any longer. The elections for the post will be held on December 5. It is time for the new generation to take over the responsibilities,” Farooq Abdullah told PTI.
“Anyone from the party can contest for the post. It is a democratic exercise,” Farooq Abdullah, who is a Lok Sabha member, said.
He became National Conference president for the first time in 1983.
He will, however, continue to head the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of five political parties comprising of the National Conference, its arch rival PDP, CPI, CPM and Awami National Conference.
“Yes, I will continue to lead the alliance,” Abdullah made it clear.
The National Conference, which is one of the oldest party of the state, also tweeted saying that Abdullah informed his colleagues of his decision to step down as president of JKNC.
“In spite of the best efforts of senior colleagues in the party Dr Sahib was adamant that he wouldn’t review his decision,” the tweet said.
“In light of this sudden announcement which has caught everyone by surprise the General Secretary as per the party constitution, has been tasked with conducting the election for party president which will be completed on Dec 5. Until then Dr Sahib continues as president of JKNC,” the party said.
NC party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar issued a notification for election which will be held on December 5, the birth anniversary of party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
According to the notification, the last date for filing of nominations for the post is December 1.
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