National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah on Sunday night jumped into the chief ministerial race saying he will head a potential NC-Congress government in Jammu and Kashmir, hours after indicating that his son Omar Abdullah will get the top job.
Anwsering a flurry of questions on the chief ministership, Abdullah declared he would be the next chief minister. The 72-year-old veteran has been chief minister during three spells between 1982 and 2002.
The National Conference projected him as the chief ministerial candidate before the elections and the party stood by that and there is no change in that stand, Farooq said.
Farooq's statement is at variance with his pre-poll stand that he would accept the chief ministership only if his party--NC-- obtained absolute majority on his own.
With the NC failing to obtain an absolute majority, the expectation in political circles was that Farooq's 38-year-old son Omar would head the coalaition which is expected to be backed by the Congress.
Omar, who made his debut into the state Assembly winning the Ganderbal seat which he lost in 2002, is believed to enjoy support from important Congress leaders at the Centre.
Earlier in the day, Farooq had clearly indicated that he was not averse to Omar taking over as chief minister.
"Why not? Omar is a young man. If he could serve better, why not?" Abdullah said when asked if Omar could be the choice of the National Conference for the chief minister's post. Farooq, who is a Rajya Sabha member, also said he would like to continue in the Upper House.
By the evening the situation appeared to have undergone a change with Farooq deciding to assume power himself to which Omar's comment was, "Well, I am 38 now, even if my father serves one full term, I will be 44."