Farooq Abdullah’s virtual retirement from electoral politics

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz. Updated: 4/13/2024 3:11:18 AM Front Page

NC shuffles all 3 Kashmir candidates for Lok Sabha polls

Srinagar: With the nomination of candidates for all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, National Conference (NC) has virtually announced its patriarch, the 87-year-old Dr Farooq Abdullah’s retirement from electoral politics.
Days after declaring senior leader and an influential Gujjar leader Mian Altaf Ahmad as its candidate from Anantnag (Anantnag-Kulgam-Rajouri-Poonch) seat, the NC on Friday, 12 April, nominated its vice president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, as its candidate from Srinagar (Srinagar-Ganderbal-Pulwama). It simultaneously nominated former Minister and three-time MLA Aga Syed Ruhullah, as its candidate from Baramulla (Baramulla-Bandipora-Kupwara-Budgam).
For the position of Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Minister, Farooq handed over the reins to his lonely son, Omar Abdullah, in 2002. Omar was decorated as the NC’s President and subsequently fielded as the party’s Chief Ministerial nominee in his father’s and grandfather’s Ganderbal segment.
It was for the first time that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s NC was defeated in an Assembly election. Omar himself lost to PDP’s Qazi Mohammad Afzal, bringing his party’s tally down from 58 to 28 seats. NC’s arch rival, PDP formed a coalition government with the Congress party.
Omar, who had begun his political career while successfully contesting the Lok Sabha elections of 1998 and 1999 and serving as a Minister of State in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s BJP-led government at the Centre, chose to contest the third Lok Sabha election in 2004. It was his hat-trick for the Parliament.
In 2008, Omar won his first Assembly election from Ganderbal. Even as Farooq won from Sonwar, Omar was inducted as Chief Minister of the NC-Congress coalition. Farooq successfully contested the subsequent Lok Sabha election in 2009 and he was inducted as a Minister in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government at the Centre.
The year 2014 proved to be a nemesis for the NC as the party, for the first time in its history, was defeated by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP on all three seats in the valley. Subsequently, it also lost the Assembly elections of 2014 to the PDP and the government to the PDP-BJP coalition.
However, Farooq retrieved his Srinagar Lok Sabha seat quickly as he defeated his rivals in the by-elections of 2017. Subsequently in 2019, NC got back all the three valley seats when Farooq won his 4th Lok Sabha election in Srinagar. NC’s Hasnain Masoodi was returned from Anantnag and Mohammad Akbar Lone from Baramulla.
Physician-turned-politician Farooq was inducted as the Minister of Health in his father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s NC government in 1979. In 1980, he was fielded as the NC’s candidate from Srinagar in the Lok Sabha elections. As nobody filed nomination papers against Sheikh’s son, Farooq was declared elected uncontested.
The NC elected Farooq as its leader following Sheikh Abdullah’s death on 8 September 1982 and he was sworn in as Chief Minister.
In 1983, NC registered an impressive victory under Farooq’s leadership and he was sworn in as Chief Minister. However, the Congress party under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s leadership toppled Farooq’s NC government with the defection of 12 MLAs and his brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah was appointed as Chief Minister of an NC-Congress government.
In the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, NC fielded Abdul Rashid Kabli against the Chief Minister’s son, Muzaffar Shah, in Srinagar. Kabli gave a crushing defeat to Shah’s son and won with a massive margin of 2,86,277 votes.
In 1987, Farooq won his second consecutive Assembly election from Ganderbal and he was appointed as Chief Minister of the NC-Congress coalition. In the low-turnout Lok Sabha elections of 1989, NC won all the three Kashmir seats, even as nobody filed nomination papers against NC’s Srinagar candidate Mohammad Shafi Bhat.
The NC did not contest the Lok Sabha elections of 1996.
Farooq contested his third consecutive Assembly election from Ganderbal in October 1996 and was appointed as Chief Minister of the NC government for his 4th term.
In all, Farooq contested 5 Lok Sabha elections—all from Srinagar. He was returned in 1980, 2009, 2017 (by-election) and 2019. However, he lost his first and last election till date to then PDP’s Tariq Hamid Karra in 2014. He was also elected a member of Rajya Sabha several times and served one term as a Union Cabinet Minister.
Farooq Also contested the Assembly elections of 1983, 1987, 1996 and 2008 successfully—the first three from Ganderbal and the last one from Sonwar and Hazratbal, winning all.
According to the well-placed political sources, none other than Omar would be contesting the Assembly elections as NC's Chief Ministerial candidate as and when the same are held later this year.

Updated On 4/13/2024 3:13:07 AM


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