Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state Assembly on Wednesday after both Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti and People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone staked claim to form government. The state has been under governor’s rule since June.
The governor’s decision came moments after Mufti tweeted that she had sought his appointment to stake claim to forming government. The PDP would form an alliance with the Congress and the National Conference, she added.
Mufti said her fax to Malik had “strangely” not been received yet. “As you are aware the Peoples Democratic Party is the largest party in the state Assembly with a strength of 29,” Mufti wrote in a letter to the governor. “You might have gathered from the media reports that the Congress and the National Conference have decided to extend their support to our party to form a government. The National Conference has 15 seats and the Congress 12. That takes our collective strength to 56.”
Shortly afterwards, Sajad Lone tweeted that his party had “WhatsApped” a letter to the Malik since the “fax [was] not working”. With the support of the BJP and “18 other elected members of the J&K state legislature”, the letter said, the proposed alliance would have more than the required number to make a majority.
“J&K Raj Bhavan needs a new fax machine urgently,” National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted. “JKNC has been pressing for Assembly dissolution for five months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti sahiba’s letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears.”
Mufti expressed the same concern, tweeting, “In today’s age of technology, it is very strange that the fax machine at the governor’s residence didn’t receive our fax but swiftly issued one regarding the Assembly dissolution.”
The PDP chief said the leaders of the three parties wanted the Assembly to be dissolved after governor’s rule was imposed in June to prevent horse trading and defections. “Oddly enough our pleas fell on deaf ears,” she added. “But who would have thought that the very idea of a grand coalition would give such jitters.”
Mufti thanked Abdullah and Congress leader Ambika Soni for “helping achieve the seemingly impossible”.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, meanwhile, asked why the Assembly had been dissolved even though only a proposal for an alliance had been made.
The developments on Wednesday came a day after one of the founding leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, indicated he might desert the party to form a “third front” with Lone. The People’s Conference leader and the BJP have reportedly been trying to create the alliance by engineering defections from other parties.
It prompted the Congress and the Kashmir Valley’s two main rival parties – the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party – to announce a proposed alliance. “National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Congress are coming together to form the government in order to prevent the emergence of third front. Coalition is there,” a senior PDP leader told Scroll.in.
According to senior leaders of the PDP, former state Education Minister and PDP member Syed Altaf Bukhari would be the chief minister of the coalition government.
An alliance between the two Valley-based rivals would be unprecedented. While the National Conference has been in alliance with the BJP at the Centre before, it has also tied up with the Congress to form state governments in the past. The Peoples Democratic Party, for its part, has tied up with the Congress both at the Centre and the state. After the Assembly elections of 2014, it entered into a contentious coalition with the BJP.
“Whoever said ‘may you live in interesting times’ knew what they were talking about,” Omar Abdullah had tweeted after news of the alliance broke.