Who is provoking Dr. Farooq Abdullah to step down as JKNC Chief?

The statement issued by the party suggested that Dr. Abdullah announced it at a time when no one was expecting it

The statement issued by the party suggested that Dr. Abdullah announced it at a time when no one was expecting it
The statement issued by the party suggested that Dr. Abdullah announced it at a time when no one was expecting it

JKNC president Farooq Abdullah quits his post

All is not well within the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC).

The recent announcement that Farooq Abdullah has decided to step down ‘suddenly’ from the post of president of the party has taken everyone by surprise.

The timing of the crucial decision has already sparked a debate in the corridors of power. However, no one really knows what prompted Dr. Abdullah to call it quits at this juncture when Assembly polls in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are around the corner.

For a long time the top brass of the party was facing some tough questions from within the party over the issue of contesting forthcoming Assembly elections ‘independently’ or in alliance with the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

While Dr. Abdullah along with his supporters was closely watching the political developments, another section of party leaders believed they were not opposed to the idea of putting up a joint candidate during the Assembly polls in alliance with PAGD.

Differences within the party surfaced earlier on August 24, 2022, after the provincial committee of the National Conference had resolved to contest all 90 seats and not in alliance with other members of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). The amalgam was formed for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Constitution.

A day later Dr. Farooq Abdullah told the media persons a final decision on contesting all 90 Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken at the time of polls, and that the shutters have not been pulled down on the five-party PAGD alliance.

Interestingly, the provincial committee meeting was chaired by NC vice president Omar Abdullah, where several other party leaders expressed dismay over the recent statements, audio jingles, and speeches made by some of the constituents of the PAGD targeting the NC. The participants also demanded immediate course correction from PAGD constituents. The provincial committee members unanimously resolved that JKNC should prepare and fight all 90 Assembly seats.

On November 4, National Conference also released the names of the constituency in-charges of 47 seats of Kashmir Valley, a hint that these leaders could be potential candidates in the first elections in UT.

A Kashmir-based journalist Javed Ahmad claimed, by releasing the names, NC is actually bargaining with other constituents of the PAGD that they should get a lion’s share in seat sharing or they will go alone“.

In Jammu, a political analyst Vijay Kumar claimed the National Conference is aiming to return to power. They cannot afford to make any mistakes as their vote share and the total number of seats were declining since the 2002 Assembly polls.

“JKNC had won 15 Assembly seats in 2014 Assembly polls and sat in the opposition. By winning a maximum number of 28 Assembly seats the party had to forge an alliance with the Congress in 2008. Earlier, in 2002 the party was voted out in 2002 Assembly polls even though they had managed to win 28 Assembly seats.

Dr. Abdullah is still a popular leader

Of all the party leaders Dr. Abdullah, at 85 years of age, is the most active politician. He is seen traveling to the nook and corner of Jammu and Kashmir despite his old age and still enjoys a warm bonhomie with the cadre even in remote corners of hilly districts. Even his political opponents claim Dr. Abdullah remains the most charismatic and seasoned politician in the Kashmir valley.

How the drama enfolded

At the end of series of meetings chaired by the top brass of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference under the leadership of Dr. Farooq Abdullah and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah last week the Twitter handle of the party posted two tweets announcing, “Dr. Farooq Abdullah Sahib has 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 statement further added, “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 the party president which will be completed on Dec 5. Until then Dr. Sahib continues as president of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference”.

The statement issued by the party clearly suggested that Dr. Abdullah announced it at a time when no one was expecting the same and he also made it clear that he was not keen on getting re-elected as president of the party for another term.

In all likelihood sitting vice president of the party and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is expected to take over the baton from his father. The second-rung leaders of the party supported by a few old horses were rallying behind Omar Abdullah to lead the party‘s poll campaign while Omar himself has announced that he will not contest the Assembly elections until and unless Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood is restored.

In another statement, Omar himself made it clear “Dr. Sahib will continue as president until the election process is completed. I appeal to all my colleagues to seriously consider filing their nominations for the post of the president so the best person from amongst us can steer the party through these turbulent times”.

Dr. Abdullah had earlier made way for his son Omar Abdullah when he was serving as a junior minister in the council of ministers of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.

Dr. Abdullah became president of the party in January 2009 after Omar became Chief Minister.

Dr. Abdullah later stepped down in May 2012 while bringing back Omar as the working president of the party. He was re-elected party president in October 2017 and since then he was serving the party.

The notification for the National Conference presidential elections was issued on November 16. This suggests that the election process was already in motion and Dr. Abdullah actually resigned two days after the formal notification.

Rift over PAGD

The PAGD – People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration – has lately been a matter of contention with Dr. Abdullah holding one view on the alliance and other senior party leaders another.

Among the PAGD partners, the Peoples Democratic Party is the only entity with electoral potential. In NC, Omar Abdullah doesn’t appear in the mood to carry along the burden of PDP.

Dr. Farooq Abdullah in Jammu said that consultation with PAGD will take place on seat sharing when the elections happen. “For now I just want to say I am not standing for NC organizational polls, but on the Assembly elections we have to contest with all the force and for that, we will have discussions within PAGD”. “I am also the president of PAGD”, Dr. Abdullah clarified.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

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  1. like any govt servants, all politicians to retire at 60 years. & should not be allowed to make any political speeches nor any political campaigns in favor of any candidate, anywhere & their terms to be restricted to max TWO


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