New Delhi: The mainstream political parties on Thursday tried to corner Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) over the decision to dissolve the state Assembly. In the latest development, the Election Commission said that the fresh elections in the state would be held within the next six months even as it did not rule out the possibility of holding polls there before the Lok Sabha Elections due next year.

Announcing about the elections, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said, “The Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls must be held on the first occasion before May … it could be held before parliament elections also.”

J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the Assembly on Wednesday evening after Peoples’ Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government along with the support of her arch-rival Omar Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) and the Congress. They claimed the support of 56 lawmakers in the 87-member state assembly.

However, on Thursday, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik defended his action saying the alliance between the former rival parties was opportunistic and not in the interest of the state. But a major row broke out over BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav’s allegations that the PDP, NC and the Congress came together at the behest of Pakistan, a remark he withdrew following stiff opposition.

Addressing the media in Srinagar, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of the National Conference said that since it was the PDP and not his party that had sent a letter to the Governor claiming a majority in the Assembly, it was for the PDP to challenge Malik’s Wednesday night action.

Reacting sharply to Ram Madhav’s comment, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “It is unfortunate that a senior BJP leader has said that we got instructions from Pakistan. I challenge Ram Madhav and his associates to prove this with evidence. You are disrespecting the sacrifices of my colleagues who refused to dance to Pakistan’s instructions and died.” Following the dare, Madhav took to Twitter and retracted his statement while issuing an apology on the same.

He also added that since it was the PDP and not his party that had sent a letter to the Governor claiming a majority in the Assembly, it was for the PDP to challenge Malik’s Wednesday night action.

Mehbooba Mufti in response to Madhav’s tweet said she was shocked to see “baseless allegations against mainstream parties in the state.

In a series of tweets, she wrote, “We had aligned with the BJP to change this pernicious mindset. Undoubtedly Pakistan has an impact on the situation. But it is up to our country to change that from negative to positive and tread the path that was taken by (Atal Bihari) Vajpayeeji.”

She added that “just because our MLAs had enough integrity to stand up to your (BJP) failed attempts of defection, they are now anti-national? Both PDP and NC have been allies of BJP at some point. Strange that our credentials weren’t questioned then.”

“Sad to see what the political discourse of our country has been reduced to. How does one define a party’s nationalistic credentials? Nationalistic and patriotic only if you are with the Centre and Pakistan-sponsored and anti-nationalistic otherwise?”

Rattled by the attack on him, Madhav tweeted “…I take back my comment, but, now that you proved it was genuine love between NC and PDP that prompted a failed government formation attempt, you should fight next elections together. Mind you it’s a political comment, not personal.”

Asked about the charge that the PDP and the National Conference got instructions from Pakistan to form a government, Malik said, “I don’t say such things. I am in a responsible post. I won’t say anything without evidence.

“This grand alliance was opportunistic. There was no agreement. Even one party was saying that there was no formal interaction among them to form the government,” he said.

On Wednesday, while denying that he acted at the behest of the BJP, the Governor said, “They (PDP, NC, and Congress) know well what the BJP headquarters wanted. The BJP had a candidate here. If I would have heard the BJP, then I would have called their side. But I did what I thought was best according to the Constitution.”

Malik alleged that for the last 15-20 days he was getting reports on horse-trading of MLAs. “I had said this at the beginning that I would not support anybody underhand or by defection or who have been threatened. I wanted an elected government here.

“I had decided to dissolve the Assembly as the legislators of these parties were indulging in horse-trading… MLAs were being threatened… If I would have given an opportunity to anyone, more horse-trading would have been done. And the entire political and judicial system of the state would have been ruined,” he said.

(With agency inputs)