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Legislative Assembly Dissolved

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Amid high drama of stacking claims for govt formation…

Srinagar, Nov 21:  In a sudden development, the Jammu and Kashmir Governor tonight dissolved the state assembly, which has been in suspended animation, shortly after rival alliances staked claim to form the government.

Governor’s rule was clamped in J and K on June 19 for a 6-month period following the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government after BJP withdrew support. The state assembly was also kept in suspended animation so that political parties could explore the possibility of forming a new government.

The decision by Governor Satyapal Malik to dissolve the state assembly under the relevant provisions in the state constitution was announced in an official communiqué. The state is now headed for another spell of central rule beyond December 18 when the governor’s rule comes to an end.

Earlier, former chief minister and PDP patron Mehbooba Mufti staked the claim to form a government with the support of the Congress and the National Conference.

Hours, or may be only minutes after both Lone and Mehbooba staked claim for government formation in the state claiming support of the required number of legislators, Governor Satya Pal Malik passed an order in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir dissolving the Legislative Assembly.

“By virtue of powers vested upon me in terms of Proclamation No. P-1/18 of 2018 dated 20th June 2018 issued under sub-section (1) of section 92 and in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, I hereby dissolve the Legislative assembly,” read an order issued by Umang Narula, Principal Secretary of Governor.

Pointing holes in the sudden dissolution of the Assembly, former chief minister and NC working president Omar Abdullah said the order issued from the Raj Bhavan minutes after Mehbooba Mufti staked claim for government formation was not a “coincidence”.

“JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday evening staked claim for the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir through an emailed letter to Governor Satya Pal Malik.

“Have been trying to send this letter to Rajbhavan. Strangely the fax is not received. Tried to contact HE Governor on phone. Not available. Hope you see it @jandkgovernor,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

In the letter to Malik, Mehbooba wrote that the Congress and National Conference have decided to extend support to “our party” to form a government in the state.

“National Conference has a strength of 15 and Congress 12 MLAs. That takes our collective strength to 56,” she said, in the letter.

Earlier in the day, Mehbooba Mufti said that the three parties – NC, Congress and PDP — were joining hands to protect the special status of the state.

She said that her party, Congress and NC have set aside difference to protect Article 35-A and prevent horse-trading.

In the meantime, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone on Wednesday evening also staked claim for the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir through a faxed letter to Governor Satya Pal Malik.

In a faxed letter to Governor, Lone said: “Following our telephonic conversation regarding government formation in J&K, I hereby formally stake my claim for government formation with the support of Bharatiya Janata Party and more than eighteen other elected member of J&K State Legislature, which is more than the required number of the members making a majority in the State Legislative Assembly,” Lone’s letter read.

It said “I shall submit the letter of support of the BJP Legislative Party and other members headed by the undersigned (Lone) as and when asked to do so by your Excellency.”

Interestingly, Lone made the announcement on social media, minutes after PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said she was unable to reach the Governor for staking claim for the government formation.

Lone shared a screenshot of the letter he had sent to the Governor Satya Pal Malik’s PRO on his WhatApp messenger.

In the letter, Lone claimed that he had the support of BJP and over 18 MLAs.

“I assure your Excellency that with the support I have from the BJP and other members of the state legislature, I will form a strong and politically stable government for restoring peace, harmony and prosperity in the state and would work towards overall development in all three regions of the state,” Lone, said in the letter.

The Governor ordered the dissolution of the Assembly as PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti and Peoples Conference head, Sajad Lone staked the claim regarding government formation. Both the leaders claimed that they have requisite numbers to form the government.

Earlier it was a hectic day for Jammu and Kashmir – seeing a flurry of political activities, including several meetings among leaders of the PDP, NC and Congress, aimed at forging an alliance to form a new government in the state.

Veteran CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami met National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah here to discuss the feasibility of forming a new government by extending support to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said a source privy to the development.

The source said the NC is willing to extend support to the PDP for forming government for now, but wants early dissolution of the Assembly, kept in suspended animation since imposition of Governor’s Rule on June 19, and eventually an election.

“The aim is to pave way for fresh polls in the state so that an elected government takes charge and the political uncertainty due to the Governor’s rule is put to an end,” the source said.

He said the developments so far have been moving in the direction of possible formation of a new government in the state in coming days.

A senior Congress leader here said his party, in principle, supports any alliance that will “keep communal forces” at bay – a reference to BJP.

“We have been working for a grand alliance at the national level and there is no reason why we oppose any such move in the state as the aim is to keep communal forces out,” said the leader.

He, however, added that no decision has been taken as yet on coalition with the PDP or any other party in the state.

Senior PDP leader and Amira MLA Kadal Altaf Bukhari was also tipped to lead the government, if the PDP-NC alliance comes to fruition.

The PDP has 28 MLAs, followed by NC’s 15 and the Congress’ 12. The three parties together will have majority in the 87-member House. The BJP is the second largest party in the state with 25 members.

Coming together of traditional rivals PDP and the NC would mark a significant realignment of political forces in the state.

The NC had offered its support to the PDP after the 2014 Assembly polls but the latter had ignored the offer and aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

After the June 19 pull-out, People Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone is understood to have been in touch with the disgruntled PDP leaders for forming an alliance with the BJP, the sources said. People Conference has two MLAs.

Imran Ansari, a former PDP minister, is among those who have been cosying up to the People’s Conference.

Lone had been successful to woo NC’s chief spokesman Junaid Muttu, who recently contested the urban local body elections and became Mayor of Srinagar.

Muzzafar Beigh, a founder member of PDP, on Tuesday held a press conference where he alleged that the PDP “betrayed the workers, denying them a chance to connect with the people, by boycotting the local bodies elections”.

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