In an interesting turn of events, Governor Satyapal Malik dissolved the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Wednesday evening, shortly after PDP leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti faxed a letter to him staking claim to form government in the state with support of the Congress and the National Conference.
The Governor dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect 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 Wednesday night.
The assembly was abruptly dissolved by the Governor Wednesday night hours after the PDP staked claim to form a 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.
Mehbooba Mufti wrote a letter to the Governor claiming support of 56 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly.
“The Governor while exercising powers conferred upon him by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir dissolved the Legislative Assembly,” said a press communiqué issued by Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to the Governor.
The dissolution was announced by the Governor in a communique released by the Raj Bhavan.
In a statement later, the Raj Bhavan said, “The Governor came to this conclusion based on the material available to him from multiple sources.”
Citing the main reasons in four points, the statement said, “The impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies including some which have been demanding dissolution of the Assembly; whereas the experience of the past few years shows that with the fractured mandate that is there in the Assembly, it is not possible to form a stable government comprising like-minded parties. The coming together of such parties in a grouping is nothing but an attempt to gain power rather than to form a responsive government.”
“Reports of extensive horse-trading and possible exchange of money in order to secure the support of legislators belonging to widely diverging political ideologies just to be able to form a government. Such activities are not healthy for democracy and vitiate the political process,” it said.
The third reason cited is “serious doubts about the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority”.
It added, “The fragile security scenario in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where there is a need to have a stable and supportive environment for security forces which are engaged in extensive anti-militancy operations and are gradually gaining control over the security situation.”
“The Governor came to the conclusion that, in this background, he has satisfied himself that the best course of action is to dissolve the assembly so as to provide stability and security to the state and hold elections at an appropriate time so that a government with a clear mandate is duly formed,” it added.
Highly placed sources said dissolution of Assembly had been ordered following hectic consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs at the Centre and others.
The state has been under the Governor’s rule since 19 June when the PDP-BJP coalition government fell as the latter withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led alliance regime. The then Governor NN Vohra, while imposing Governor’s rule, did not dissolve the Assembly. Malik had recently said the Assembly would not be dissolved.
Dissolution of the Assembly however appeared on the cards when the BJP started making attempts earlier during the day to block the three parties from coming to power.
Shortly after the PDP, Congress and NC formalised an alliance to stake claim to form government in Jammu and Kashmir, and Mufti sent the letter. Peoples Conference leader Sajad Lone, with support from the BJP, too reportedly wrote to Governor Malik countering the move.
Lone claimed support of 18 MLAs besides the 25-strong BJP, asserting that it was more than the required number for majority.
In her letter, Mehbooba wrote: “As you are aware that the PDP is the largest party in the state assembly having strength of 29… NC has strength of 15 and the Congress 12. That takes our collective strength to 56.”
“You might have gathered from the media reports that the Congress and NC have also decided to extend support to our party to form a government in the state,” Mehbooba said in the letter that she faxed from Srinagar after hectic parleys between leaders of the three parties.
Until the news of dissolution came, former minister Altaf Bukhari of the PDP was tipped to be the next CM of the PDP-led collation.
Speaking to the media earlier int he day, he had said the people of Jammu and Kashmir would soon get “good news” regarding government formation in the state.
The NC, Congress and PDP have decided to stage protests against the Governor’s sudden decision to dissolve the Assembly. Calling the decision “undemocratic”, these parties have decided to stage protests throughout the state.
(With PTI inputs)