New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Tuesday claimed he dissolved the State assembly on his own without seeking the Centre’s advice or direction as the J&K Constitution does not require him to take permission from the President or Parliament. But why he did he not consult the Centre? Addressing students in Gwalior, he made an explosive claim that the Centre would have forced him to make People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone the chief minister, which he didn’t want.
“If I’d turned towards Delhi, I would have had to invite Sajjad Lone to form the government and history would have seen me as a dishonest man. That is why I closed that door. Those who want to speak ill of me, they can. But I am convinced that whatever I did was correct,” he said.
However, by trying to give a belated ‘spin’ to the controversy surrounding his action, the Governor has unwittingly brought into open the pulls and pressures that were at work in a highly fluid situation. After the comments drew flak, the Governor clarified. “My statement cannot be twisted to imply in any way that the Centre was interested in Sajad Lone. I only said, if I would have asked them, they might have said Sajad Lone. I did not ask them and they did not tell me,” he told NDTV.
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala latched onto the statement and tweeted that “the J&K Governor has exposed Modi government’s sinister design of installing an illegitimate government by horse trading & coercion.” “From Goa to Arunachal, J&K to Tamil Nadu, this has been Modi’s operandi! PM must answer for the rank political dishonesty,” he said.
The Governor also reiterated his earlier claim that PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah made no “serious” efforts to get in touch with him. “You can’t just fax or tweet and form the government. Why didn’t they come to Jammu? Why did they not call me?” he said. “It was an Eid holiday. Did they expect the Governor to stand by the fax machine and wait for their fax,” Malik added.
In a bid to clear the air, Satya Pal Malik also said Lone was the first person to stake a claim to form the government, which goes against the public perception. It was only after the PDP made public its decision to stake claim on twitter that Sajad Lone’s two-member People’s Conference claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.
Political observers said Governor Malik seems to be oblivious of his role as a bipartisan constitutional functionary – he is supposed to stay aloof from political machinations and not form his own conclusive judgment on whether a formation is tenable or not. The numbers are to be determined on the floor of the House and not in the Raj Bhavan, and the Supreme Court is very clear on this score.
Dr Farooq Abdullah pointed out that the governor should have given the parties wanting to form a government a chance, instead of dissolving the Assembly. “He (Malik) has to defend himself in front of the government in Delhi, and you know what the government is all about. The Assembly would have seen who has the majority. It cannot be decided in the Raj Bhawan. Why did they not dissolve the Assembly earlier, he demanded.