Citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and the “fragile security scenario in the state… where there is a need to have a stable and supportive environment for security forces”, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state Assembly Wednesday night.
Expressing “serious doubts about the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority”, he said dissolution of the Assembly is “the best course of action… 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”.
Malik moved shortly after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and Congress — she cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House. A separate claim to form a government was made by Sajad Gani Lone of the two-member People’s Conference who claimed support of the BJP and 18 MLAs from other parties. He sent a letter while flying home from London.
The dissolution of the Assembly, kept in suspended animation since June when Governor’s Rule was imposed after the BJP ended its alliance with the PDP to bring down the Mehbooba Mufti coalition, marked the culmination of high-voltage politics through the day that saw the PDP, NC and Congress joining hands to announce “a grand alliance of like-minded secular parties”.
Burying differences for the time being, the three parties came together to foil a BJP move to stitch an alliance and prop up a government with ally Lone as Chief Minister. Two days ago, PDP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig had backed Lone, saying he would “seriously consider” joining the third front if it was formed, and Lone had welcomed his statement.
In first remarks on the dissolution of the House, Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter to thank Omar Abdullah of the NC and Ambika Soni of the Congress: “In my twenty six year old career as a politician, I thought I had seen it all! But like they say never say never! Nevertheless, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to @OmarAbdullah and @Ambikasoni4 ji for helping us achieve the seemingly impossible.”
Hours earlier, PDP leader and former minister Altaf Bukhari, who appeared to have emerged as the consensus choice to lead the three-party formation, announced the alliance after meeting Omar Abdullah at his Gupkar home. “The three parties have agreed to join hands to form the government. The basic aim is to defend the special identity of Jammu and Kashmir, whether it is Article 370 or 35A,” he said.
Confirming the developments, Congress state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said: “Yes, it has been decided by the three parties after discussions that let there be a grand alliance of like-minded secular parties. This decision was also taken as the Governor did not dissolve the Assembly and he was on record to say he will keep the Assembly intact until 2020.”
NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said: “In principle, we have agreed to form an alliance. But it will take some time. We are working on the modalities.”
But late at night, Malik issued the order dissolving the Assembly. A Raj Bhavan press communiqué said the Governor “came to this conclusion based on the material available to him from multiple sources”. It listed “the main reasons” for the decision:
* “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.
* Serious doubts about the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority.
* 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.”