Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik, whose move to dissolve the state assembly came under criticism today, has cited multiple reasons for the step, including the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies”.
In a statement issued late in the evening, the Governor said there were reports of “extensive horse trading”. Underscoring the need for a stable government given the security situation, Mr Malik said there were doubts about “the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority”.
The decision of Mr Malik, who replaced Governor NN Vohra in August — came after rival claims to form the government. One was from former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who tied up with arch-rival Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and the Congress. The other claimant was People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone, who is backed by the BJP.
The dissolution of assembly found support from the BJP, whose tie-up with ideologically disparate PDP had unravelled in June. Questioning Ms Mufti’s Grand Alliance, the BJP said in a tweet, “The best option in such a scenario is to go in for a fresh election at the earliest. This assembly cannot produce a stable government”.
Mr Abdullah and Ms Mufti — who have been at loggerheads for years — intensely criticised the decision, questioning its timing. They also cracked jokes on Twitter about the fax machine in Raj Bhavan which, Ms Mufti claimed, had failed to receive her letter.
The Congress, meanwhile, added a twist to Ms Mufti’s claim. Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad indicated their talks were at a nascent stage. “Neither was National Conference keen to form a government, the Congress was not keen at all to form a government. It was a suggestion,” Mr Azad told NDTV.
“The proposed alliance between the INC and the PDP broke up even before it was formed. They have taken contradictory positions on dissolution. One supports it and the other opposes it,” jeered the BJP, which had been discussing an alliance with Sajad Lone for weeks.
Mr Lone, who has two lawmakers in the assembly including himself, had claimed support of the 26 lawmakers of the BJP. He also said he had the support of “more than 18 other lawmakers”. While he did not specify which party they belonged to, the buzz was that most of them were from Ms Mufti’s PDP.
Later in the evening, PDP’s rebel lawmaker Imran Ansari told reporters that if the Governor called them for a floor test, “we would’ve shown our members”. Now, election is the only option, he said, adding, “If Mehbooba-ji thinks it’s undemocratic, she has a lot of options in this democratic country”.
The governor’s advice for dissolution of the assembly will pave way for elections in the state within the next six months. The tenure of the governor’s rule is ending next month, which will be followed by President’s rule.