National Conference leader Omar Abdullah today came down heavily on Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik's decision to dissolve the state assembly, asserting that the public official's constitutional responsibilities do not include judging "which political alliance is holy and which is not".
Mr Abdullah was referring to the Governor's statement that he had dissolved the assembly to "discourage horse-trading" and prevent "opportunistic parties with opposing political ideologies" from coming together to form an unstable government in Jammu and Kashmir. "Also, why was the same yardstick not applied when the BJP and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came together years ago? Why is J&K suddenly being held to a higher standard?" he asked in an interview with NDTV.
The National Conference had supported the PDP's claim to power on Wednesday night, only to see Mr Malik dissolve the state assembly minutes later. "For five months, we had been pitching for dissolution. Surprisingly, the assembly disappeared only after Mehbooba sent her letter," he said, pointing that it couldn't have been a coincidence.
Mr Abdullah also picked on the Governor's assertion that he had rejected Ms Mehbooba's claim to prevent "political instability" in the state. "The BJP did not have the numbers in Goa, but it still formed the government. You can also look at Karnataka or, for that matter, the time when Atal Bihari Vajpayee got to be the Prime Minister for 13 days. The governor doesn't get to count heads, he can only establish claims," he said.
BJP ally Sajad Lone's statement that he was not trying to poach legislators from other parties came up for discussion at the interview too. "There is an inherent contradiction in what he's saying. He (Mr Lone) says that he hasn't spoken to rival legislators, but still claims the support of 18 additional MLAs in his letter. This is an admission of horsetrading," said Mr Abdullah.
The National Conference leader maintained that he had never considered the PDP as a "political untouchable", and would certainly not do so at a time when uniting against the BJP was the need of the hour. "If the PDP had accepted the National Conference and the Congress' unconditional offer of support in 2015, the politics of Jammu and Kashmir would have been very different today. What we need to see at the national level is not a big mahagathbandhan or grand alliance but a strategic coming-together of parties to unseat the BJP and its friends," he said.
Mr Abdullah said that Indian politics was currently undergoing a major shift in response to the rapid rise of right-wing forces. "(Telugu Desam Party leader) Chandrababu Naidu driving to (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi's house would have been unimaginable earlier, but it has happened. I am a very small cog in a very large machine, but that is the way I would go about it," he added.
So, will the National Conference challenge the Governor's decision in court? "We don't have the grounds to mount a legal challenge, but we will support the PDP if they do so," the politician said.
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