Fuelling the debate over his decision to dissolve the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and ignoring claims to power, Governor Satya Pal Malik has said had he looked to Delhi, he would have had to install a government led by Sajad Lone, and history would have remembered him as a “dishonest man”.
Lone heads the People’s Conference and has the backing of the BJP. On November 21, in separate letters staking claim to form the government, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti cited support of the Congress and National Conference, while Lone said he had the support of the BJP and other MLAs. Within hours, Malik dissolved the Assembly.
Justifying his decision — the J&K Assembly had been in suspended animation after Governor’s Rule was imposed in June — Malik told a gathering at the ITM University in Gwalior last Saturday: “Aur phir ek bar clear kar doon ki Delhi ki taraf dekhta toh Lone ki sarkar mujhko banani padti. Aur mein itihas mein ek beiman aadmi ke taur pe jata. Lihaza mainey mamle ko hi khatam kar diya. Jo gaali dengey dengey, lekin mein convinced hoon ki mainey theek kaam kiya.’’(And let me make it clear once again that had I looked towards Delhi, then I would have had to install Lone’s government and my name would have gone down in history as a dishonest man. So I ended the matter once and for all. Those who abuse me will continue to do so, but I am convinced I did the right thing).
Lone reacted angrily to the Governor’s remarks, calling it “character assassination” and said “I can’t sit and watch a person rip me apart”.
Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, on the other hand, congratulated Malik for “not looking to Delhi”. Taking to Twitter, Abdullah said: “My compliments to Governor Malik for not looking to Delhi & for not taking their instructions thereby stopping the installation of a government of the BJP & its proxies formed by horse trading, defections & use of money… we’ve also never known a politically appointed governor going against the wishes of the Centre.”
Mufti tweeted: “Leaving aside the fax machine fiasco, good to see that Governor Sb refused to take dictation from Delhi rather opted for dissolution of assembly. This could be unprecedented, given the story of democracy in the state.”
In Gwalior, Malik said he did not feel the need to ask anyone in Delhi since he had met everyone there two days before he dissolved the House. “Had I asked them, it was possible they would have said administer the oath of office to Sajad Lone because he had been saying give me six days and I will prove my majority. Is it my job to deliver the oath of office and then tell the person to break MLA ranks?”
On claims and counter-claims by rival parties about the number of MLAs with them, Malik said: “Both sides did not have the numbers. Mehboobaji did not submit any list, nor was there a list with Sajad Lone.”
Referring to Mehbooba’s tweet staking claim to form the government and a similar message by Lone via WhatsApp, Malik said he was not aware that governments in J&K are also formed via WhatsApp and Twitter. “I had an inkling from the very beginning that if horse-trading starts, money will come. And so will terrorists and two- four people will get killed, leading to disorder. This would have spoilt everything, including the ongoing panchayat elections,’’ he said.
After a video of his remarks did the rounds Tuesday, Malik clarified: “I did not speak to anyone in Delhi, there was no intervention from there. What my statement meant was that if I had looked at or sought Delhi’s intervention, then I would have asked Lone to form the government because he was going to form a government with support from the BJP. So naturally, I would have asked him.”
Malik said his mandate was that no government should be formed in J&K through “defection or under duress. Anyway, both of them (Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti) have since stated that this (dissolution of Assembly) was their plan all along. Then where is the problem?… There is a Chinese proverb that translates to ‘moorkh ko aap chand dikhayenge toh wo ungli hi dekhega, chand nahin dekhega’.”
Lone, meanwhile, said: “I have been sitting patiently for the last three-four days and seeing myself being ripped apart. And the demonic caricatures being painted, especially at the hands of His Excellency, the Governor… Let me put the record straight. I was the first one who called him. He was very cordial and he told me that you send a fax. After that, I tried my best for three hours to send the fax but it would not go through.”
“In the interim, we called the private secretary, the same person who put us on to the Governor in the first place. He would not take the call. In between popped up a claim from Mehbooba Mufti. So when Ms Mufti is saying the fax was blocked, for whom was it blocked? The first question is for whom was it blocked?’’ he said.
Lone said the Governor’s remarks have increased the threat to his security. “It is certainly a security risk. I have lost my father, in a different manner. But again at the hands of militants. Given that on a daily basis, you paint me as some… favourite of Delhi is not going to decrease my security risk,” he said.