Farooq Abdullah was on Monday re-elected unopposed the president of the National Conference (NC), barely a fortnight after the 85-year-old leader announced he would not run for another term.
Abdullah, who has served as NC president for nearly three decades after being elected first in 1981, said though he wanted to step aside and let the younger leadership run the party, he was persuaded to continue as “we are passing through a very difficult phase”.
Abdullah was elected the party’s chief at the NC’s delegate session held here after party leaders offered prayers at the mausoleum of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Naseem Bagh in Hazratbal on his 117th birth anniversary.
Reacting to the development, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP said Abdullah’s reelection as the National Conference chief shows the party is confined to dynasty politics “which has no place in J&K”.
The last NC presidential elections were held five years ago.
NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said only Abdullah’s nomination was received till the last date of filing papers. A total of 183 proposals from Kashmir, 396 from Jammu and 25 from Ladakh were received in support of Farooq Abdullah, the party said.
The former union minister was first elected NC president in 1981 when his father Sheikh Abdullah was the chief minister. Before the 2002 assembly polls, Farooq Abdullah’s son Omar was elected the NC president as the senior leader wanted the younger generation to take up the mantle.
Omar stepped down in 2014 and his father was once again elected the president. He has remained the party president since.
During a party meeting recently, Abdullah had expressed a desire to step down from the post owing to his health. The party then set the presidential election process into motion and said the new president would be elected at the party’s delegate session.
It said the party’s internal elections had already been concluded.
However, the party persuaded Abdullah to lead it for another term.
Congratulating Farooq Abdullah on his re-election, Omar said his father earlier decision not to continue as party president had not only surprised them but caused them a lot of tension.
“He announced it without any discussions. We were heartbroken, we lost our mental balance, because he was leaving us in such a situation where we have to take the fight forward and take the state out from the morass…when we have to fight the injustice done to us on August 5, 2019 and prepare the party for the forthcoming tests,” Omar said.
“After that day, I was continuously persuading my father,” he said. “If you (Farooq) do not want to remain the party president, then the NC will not have any president. Do you want the NC to function with a president?” Omar said the party has to learn a lot from the experience of its president.
He said other leaders in the party will have more responsibility and assured his father that they will take his message to every corner of J-K.
Addressing the party delegates, Farooq Abdullah thanked them but said he did not want to continue as the party president.
“I wanted the younger leadership to run the party now because no one knows when the time to leave this world will come. So, I thought about this for many days. But, the party thought it would not be right for me to leave when we are passing through a very difficult phase.
“So, I took their advice and accepted this. But, I told them that you should make preparations for the younger leadership to take over. We have to bring the youth forward. The youth men and women are the power of this party and it is imperative to make them stronger,” he said.
JK BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur NC election was all a mere drama, “rather a pre-planned move to gain media attention”.
“Dynasty rule yet again. Re-election of Dr Farooq Abdullah as National Conference president shows party confined to dynasty politics which has lost ground and faith among people of J&K. No place for family rule and dynasty politics in J&K,” he said.