In a dramatic development, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday dissolved the state Assembly under Section 53 of the J&K Constitution.
In a terse announcement, Governor Satya Pal Malik said that he was exercising powers conferred on him by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and dissolving the House which had two more years to go.
The dissolution came shortly after former Chief Minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti wrote to the Governor saying the Congress and 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 the support of 18 MLAs besides the 25-strong BJP, contending that it was more than the required number for majority.
Reacting to Governor's decision to dissolve the assembly, former chief minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah said that his party had been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months. He also raised questions over the timing of Governor's decision.
"JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears," he tweeted.
JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 21, 2018
Earlier, in her letter to Governor, Mehbooba wrote to governor that her party, which has 29 MLAs, backed by the National Conference and the Congress with 15 and 12 legislators respectively intended to stake claim for formation of the government. She claimed support of a total of 56 MLAs.
The collective strength of the three parties was 56, well above the required number of 44 for a majority in the 87-member assembly, Mehbooba, a former chief minister, said.
Mehbooba further informed the Governor that the alliance partners would soon meet him to stake claim to form the government in the state.
Sending the letter also by mail https://t.co/116mpfOrpo— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 21, 2018
Mehbooba's claims were countered by People's Conference Chairman Sajad Lone who also staked claim to form the government and claimed support of BJP MLAs as well as some other MLAs.
“Following our telephonic conversation (which was made midair) regarding government formation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, I hereby formally stake claim for the government formation in the state with the support of the BJP and more than 18 other elected members of the J&K state legislature...,” Sajjad said in a letter to Governor.
Lone claimed that he would submit the letter of support from the BJP legislature party and other members supporting the government headed by him as and when asked to do so.
Watch: J-K Governor dissolves Assembly
The dissolution paves the way for a fresh elections in the state amid speculation that it could be held with the Lok Sabha polls due early next year.
The six-month tenure of the governor’s rule ends on December 18 which will be followed by President’s rule. The state assembly’s tenure was till October 2020.
Governor’s rule was clamped in the state on June 19 for a 6-month period following the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti after the saffron party withdrew support. The state assembly was also kept in suspended animation so that political parties could explore the possibility of forming a new government.
In a series of tweets, Mehbooba 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 said in a lighter vein that “In today’s age of technology, it is very strange that the fax machine at the Governor’s residence didn’t receive our fax but swiftly issued one regarding the assembly dissolution.”
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said while the talks for formation of a popular government were in infancy stage, the BJP government at the Centre was so worried that they dissolved the state assembly.
“It is clear that BJP’s policy is either we or nobody,” Azad told PTI.
Welcoming the Governor’s decision, BJP State president Ravinder Raina said that NC, Congress and PDP once again hatched a conspiracy against the interest of the people of the state.
BJP welcomes the decision taken by the J&K Governor. Once again, NC, Congress & PDP hatched a conspiracy in Jammu & Kashmir that would have done injustice to Jammu and Ladakh. Will they form alliance before elections?: BJP State president Ravinder Raina on J&K assembly dissolved pic.twitter.com/0RxpoeWguy— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2018
(With agency inputs)