In 1998, Omar Abdullah was elected to 12th Lok Sabha. In 1998-99, he was Member, Committee on Transport and Tourism and Member, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Tourism. In 1999, he was re-elected to 13th Lok Sabha (2nd term). On October 13, 1999 he took oath as Union Minister of State,
Commerce and Industry. On July 22, 2001, he was made Union Minister of State, External Affairs.
Later, he moved away from the Centre with an eye on Jammu and Kashmir political mantle. He probably will be the third generation chief minister from the Sheikh lineage. Omar Adbullah is seen as a moderniser, keen to reform Kashmir's dilapidated economy.
Farooq Abdullah’s strategy to abstain on voting in the House on the Gujarat issue, and Omar Abdullah’s giving in his resignation are all seen as moves by the father-son duo to establish Omar Abdullah in the Valley.
But he faces a tough challenge in the form of Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad who is Jammu and Kashmir’s Pradesh Congress Committee president.
The National Conference again does not enjoy unchallenged authority in the state with many viewing the party as having sold itself to the central powers. Added to it is the rising problem of militancy, the various militant outfits who have set themselves up as supposed representatives of the people and Pakistan’s backing to these outfits.
Together they present a formidable challenge to Omar Abdullah as he casts himself fully into Jammu and Kashmir’s disturbed politics.