J&K Governor said he decided to dissolve the assembly due to "reports of extensive horse-trading"
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir is headed to elections two years before term with Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolving the assembly on Wednesday evening, a controversial decision that critics say is open to legal challenge. The Governor acted swiftly after two alliances - one supported by the BJP - staked claim to power within minutes of each other. "There was no imminent reason to dissolve it before as "no one had come with a horrible proposition to form government," the Governor told NDTV this morning. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had teamed up with her long-time political rival Omar Abdullah and the Congress for a shot at forming government, alleged that the Governor acted on the centre's orders to block her as the BJP tried to prop up People's Conference leader Sajad Lone and engineer defections.
Here are the latest political developments on Jammu and Kashmir:
- Governor Malik said he decided to dissolve the assembly due to "the impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies" and "reports of extensive horse-trading and possible exchange of money in order to secure the support of legislators". The Governor, sources said, had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah earlier this week.
- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted her letter to the Governor claiming the support of 56 lawmakers, including 12 from the Congress and 15 from Omar Abdullah's National Conference. That placed her alliance comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 44 in the 87-member assembly.
- Mehbooba Mufti said she had tried to call the Governor but he didn't take it; she also tried to fax her letter, but couldn't.
- Sajad Lone, who is in London, did get through to the Governor and sent his letter on WhatsApp. Along with his two lawmakers, he said, he had the support of the BJP's 25 legislators and "more than 18 other lawmakers".
- Moments later, the Governor faxed his decision to dissolve the assembly - Mehbooba Mufti pointed out in her tweets that the fax machine did work this time.
- Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor's Rule since June, when the BJP ended its ruling alliance with Ms Mufti, forcing her to resign. The Governor had kept the assembly in suspended animation instead of dissolving it, saying he didn't want lawmakers to stop receiving their constituency development funds.
- Mehbooba Mufti's move to reach out to her rival came amid growing discontent within her PDP; a senior leader, Muzaffar Baig, had threatened to quit and join hands with Sajad Lone.
- Sajad Lone, the son of Abdul Gani Lone who was killed by Pakistan-based terrorists in 2002, had been in touch with the BJP for weeks and reports that he would try to form a government spurred Ms Mufti.
- Today, Sajad Lone said "Omar, Mufti also know that MLAs are not cattle in shackles... The MLAs have a right and if they collectively get together -- which is permitted by the constitution -- they can make their own decisions".
- Elections have to be held in Jammu and Kashmir within the next six months. Home Ministry sources say the polls may be held alongside the national election in 2019.
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