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|April 16, 1999||
National Conference will back BJP
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah has announced his party, the National Conference's support to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre. "We will support the BJP," he said, contradicting his earlier announcement that the issue will be discussed by the NC working committee.
Sources said the prime minister and other BJP leaders had succeeded in persuading Dr Abdullah to continue his support for the coalition. "The country is passing through a crucial phase of political instability," he said and regretted that instead of thinking about strengthening the country, everyone was "trying to strengthen himself."
Complimenting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his bold initiative in normalising relations with Pakistan, he said, "no previous government at the Centre has taken such a bold step." He said he did not believe the BJP was a communal party and said "it has changed because the party knows that for staying in power it needs support of all sections of people."
Sources say a large chunk of the National Conference is against continuing the alliance with the BJP. They include the party's MP, Professor Saifuddin Soz. Professor Soz has been using his influence to force the chief minister to return to the United Front.
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