Saturday, July 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Farooq to meet PM on July 17
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, July 14 — Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who will be in the Capital on Monday to hold discussions with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on granting greater autonomy to the state today reaffirmed that there was no softening of stand on the issue within the National Conference.

Dr Farooq said, “the party position would be very clear to all after the Working Committee meeting resumes tomorrow”. He asserted that a decision had already been taken and the Working Committee would meet to decide whether or not to continue with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Dr Farooq said he would hold discussions, which could continue for a few days, with NDA leaders only after the Working Committee of the National Conference took a final decision on the issue.

The Working Committee of the National Conference is scheduled to resume its meeting tomorrow at Srinagar. The meeting had been put off following the death of Begum Akbar Jehan, mother of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

Speaking to media persons at Rashtrapati Bhawan after receiving the Dr B.C. Roy National award in the category of medicalman-cum-statesman, Dr Farooq said the issue of continuing with the NDA would be “decided after the Working Committee meeting tomorrow”.

He said he would be back in Delhi on Monday armed with the decision of the Working Committee and then would hold discussions not only with the Prime Minister but also other senior leaders of the NDA.

Asked whether the party would continue in the NDA in the wake of the statement of the Prime Minister, that the Union Cabinet had not outrightly rejected the autonomy resolution passed by the state Assembly, Dr Farooq said: “I am sure we will be able to find an amicable solution to our problem”.

Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was present on the occasion, said: “I am sure the National Conference will remain in the NDA. They are among our very important constituents and most valued colleagues. In Omar Abdullah, (son of Dr Farooq) we have a minister of great competence who is one of our brightest young colleagues.”

UNI adds from Srinagar: Dr Farooq Abdullah said today that he would be going to New Delhi with an open mind to discuss with the Prime Minister the entire gamut of the autonomy issue without restriction to any specific period.

Talking to newsmen after the observance of “chahrum” ceremony of his mother, Begum Akber Jehan, here this afternoon, the Chief Minister said no condition had been laid down for the talks.

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