Srinagar: A high-level political drama unfolded in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday as Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state Legislative Assembly a few hours after Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti wrote a letter to him while staking claim to form the government, with the backing of rival National Conference and the Congress, followed by another bid from the two-member People’s Conference which claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties. (J&K politics updates)
The J&K Governor took the decision considering four main aspects, including ‘extensive horse-trading’ and the ‘impossibility’ of forming a stable government by coming together of political parties with ‘opposing political ideologies’, the Raj Bhavan said in a statement.
Questioning the timing of the dissolution, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said, “Since the past five months, regardless of political affiliations, we shared the view that the state Assembly be dissolved immediately to avert horse trading and defections. Oddly enough, our pleas fell on deaf ears. But who would have thought that the very idea of a grand coalition would give such jitters.”
She also took a dig at the Raj Bhavan for not receiving her letter of support via fax and tweeted, “In today’s age of technology, it is very strange that the fax machine at Governor’s residence didn’t receive our fax but swiftly issued one regarding the Assembly dissolution.”
To this, former J&K CM Omar Abdullah quipped, “J&K Raj Bhavan needs a new fax machine urgently.” In an earlier tweet, while launching a scathing attack on J&K Governor, he said, “National Conference has been pressing for Assembly dissolution for five months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti letter staking claim the order to dissolve the Assembly suddenly appears.”
The Congress, however, rejected the claim made by Mufti that it has agreed to give support to the PDP. Speaking to the media after dissolution of J&K Assembly, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “I said this afternoon also that it’s a suggestion and no final decision has been taken yet on PDP-NC-Congress alliance. BJP dissolved the Assembly even though only a proposal was made.”
Adding further, he asserted, “There should be elections as soon as possible. We don’t want a prolonged President’s rule in the state. Of course, it may take two-three months. But there should be fresh elections now at the earliest.”
Earlier in the evening, Mufti wrote to the Governor, stating that the Congress and the National Conference had decided to extend support to her party to form a government in the troubled state. This was countered by Lone, who also wrote to the Governor staking claim to form the government with BJP’s backing. He claimed support of 18 MLAs besides the 25-strong BJP, contending that it was more than the required number for majority.
Mufti, in her letter to the Governor, said that with a strength of 29 MLAs of its own, the PDP would have a collective strength of 56 MLAs including 15 of the National Conference and 12 of the Congress.
“Since I’m presently in Srinagar, it would not be possible to call on you immediately and this is to keep you informed that we would be seeking your convenience shortly to stake the claim for forming the government in the state,” Mehbooba wrote to the Governor who was said to be away in Chandigarh for a wedding.
In the 87-member House, the BJP has 25 MLAs, all from Jammu, and claims the support of Valley-based Peoples Conference which has two MLAs.
The political developments assume significance in view of the fact that the tenure of Governor’s rule is all set to end next month, which would be followed by the President’s rule if no government was formed. The Governor’s rule in the state was imposed after the BJP pulled out of the Mehbooba Mufti government leading to the fall of the PDP-BJP collation that lasted for over two years.