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Another ‘skeleton’ from Satya Pal Malik’s closet digs up old ghosts in J&K

Targets Sajad Lone as PM Modi's 'blue-eyed boy'; Oppn harks back to 'faxgate' and how an PDP-NC-Cong was denied 'by Centre'

Malik recently said that after completing his current tenure, he will “fully participate” in the fight for farmers’ rights. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi/File)

Last week, former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik, in an interview to The Wire, re-ignited the memories of what came to be known as ‘faxgate’ in Kashmir politics. Malik, who is now the Meghalaya governor, called Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone a blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and said Lone wanted to become the J&K Chief Minister with just six legislators.

The incident dates back to November 2018 when Malik was the J&K governor and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staked claim to form the government with support from its arch-rival National Conference and the Congress.

On November 21, 2018, five months after the BJP walked out of the coalition government, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti claimed she had tried to fax a letter to the Governor House claiming support of 56 MLAs, from the three parties, but it was “not received”. Mufti then posted the letter on Twitter, saying: “Have been trying to send his letter to Rajbhavan. Strangely the fax is not received. Tried to contact… Governor on phone. Not available.”

Immediately after Mufti made the letter public on social media, Lone, who was in London at the time, said his party too had staked claims to form the government. “We have sent letter to His Excellency the Governor staking our claim to form the government. Fax not working. We have WhatsApped it to PA to his Excellency @jandkgovernor,” Lone tweeted.

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In his letter, Lone claimed support of the BJP and 18 other legislators, saying he will “submit the letter of support from BJP legislative party and other members as and when asked to do so”.

The J&K Assembly had 87 members at the time. After the delimitation, the new House will have 90 members (without Ladakh).

Rather than calling either side, Malik had dissolved the Assembly, saying it was “impossible to form a stable government” with the alliance of the NC, PDP and Congress, and that there were reports of horse trading.

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In an interview last week, Malik targeted Lone, saying he wanted to form a government with just six members. “I asked him (Lone) who is supporting you. He said I have six MLAs, but if you give me oath, I will prove majority in a week,” Malik said in the interview.

Malik’s statement drew a sharp reaction from Lone, while on his way to London for some “family engagements”. “Every time I am in London or on my way to London there is a person who gets hit by verbal diarrhoea. This person sitting on chair doled out in charity in lieu of being chief accomplice in murders, arrests and abrogating Article-370 wants now to be the sermoniser,” Lone tweeted. “Will someone tell this chronic verbal diarrhoea patient that during this entire episode I was in London. Hopefully when I come back we will have a lot to catch up and talk about. Right now – off to foreign shores. Family first.”

Lone’s sharp riposte might have been to Malik’s assertion calling him the “blue-eyed boy” of PM Modi. While the PC leader had aligned with the BJP during the 2014 Assembly elections and called Modi his big brother, Lone now steers clear from the BJP, with sentiments high against the saffron party.

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Lone’s rivals said Malik’s revelations proved their point that the staking of claim by him to form the government was only to sabotage the formation of government by the PDP, NC and Congress alliance, and it was done at the behest of the BJP and Centre.

“Four years later, we have been proved right. The fax scandal and staking of claim to government formation by rivals was aimed by the Centre at strangulating democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. Malik was a part of that conspiracy,” said a PDP leader. “This might be a revelation for some, but the people in the Valley know it already.”

First published on: 19-09-2022 at 18:23 IST
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