Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Thursday ruled out the dissolution of the state Assembly and said it will remain in suspended animation till it completes its six-year term or fresh elections are held, Greater Kashmir reported. The term of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly ends in December 2020.
“Jammu and Kashmir is heading towards president’s rule,” said Malik. “It is a normal legal procedure according to the Constitution.”
The state is currently under Governor’s rule, which was imposed a day after the ruling coalition collapsed on June 19 when the Bharatiya Janata Party ended its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party. After Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned, governor’s rule came into force for six months and Malik took charge of the state in August. Governor’s rule is set to end on December 19.
Malik said there is no issue with the Assembly as the elected leaders are still its members. “So, even though there is not an elected government in place, the political process is going on, as the process includes political activity as well,” he said. “Keeping this in mind, the Assembly will not be dissolved.”
The governor urged the political parties in the state to participate in the electoral process instead of boycotting it. Both the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party boycotted the urban local body polls held between October 1 and October 5 over the lack of clarity on Article 35A of the Constitution. Malik claimed both parties announced a boycott only for “political posturing” and some of their members had contested the elections. Article 35A, incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954, grants special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.
“People have been contesting even without symbols,” he said. “Boycotting elections does not help in solving the Article 35A issue or Article 370. It does not help in solving any other problem of the state either.” Article 370 grants special, autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Malik further said: “Only for your own political posturing, you are boycotting them. I want to appeal to all the political parties once again to participate in the [panchayat] polls.” Panchayat elections in the state will be held in nine phases between November 17 and December 11.
While low voter turnouts were recorded in the Kashmir Valley in the urban local body polls, Malik expressed confidence that the panchayat elections would see an improvement. “I am 100% sure it will improve,” he said. “I am sure that people in large numbers will cast their vote.”