Former governor of Jammu & Kashmir Satyapal Malik has now been transferred as the Governor of Meghalaya. He was previously the Governor of Goa. When the Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, Malik was at the centre point of the developments.
Malik was the governor of Jammu & Kashmir from August 2018 to October 2019. He was appointed as the Goa Governor in October last year soon after the act was passed. Malik was also in news during his tenure in Goa, however, the way he made it to the headlines when he was serving his tenure in Jammu and Kashmir is worth discussing.
Political unrest in Jammu and Kashmir
The story goes back to the days of the political crisis in the state of J&K. Followed by the killing of Burhan Wani in Kashmir the state was going through a renewed crisis and the BJP-PDP alliance was on the verge of breaking.
The three-year Jammu and Kashmir government, wracked by bitter political feuds and worsening security challenges, collapsed finally on 19 June 2018, with the BJP pulling out of its alliance with the PDP, setting the stage for yet another round of Governor's rule.
When Raj Bhawan fax machine opened a new battleground in J&K
In the meantime, Malik was appointed as J&K governor. When the crisis reached its peak and the PDP, the National Conference, aided by the Congress wanted to form the government J&K, Malik stepped in.
In a bid to form the government, former chief minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti had faxed a letter to Malik’s office declaring a joint bid. However, without acknowledging receipt of her fax, he ordered the dissolution of the Assembly.
The next day, in his rebuttal to the fiasco, Malik claimed he had missed Mehbooba’s faxed letter because there was nobody in his office to receive it, as it was a holiday in the state on the occasion of Id-e-Milad.
With this, a Raj Bhawan fax machine opened a new battleground in Jammu and Kashmir.
In this way, letters to stake claim to form a government by the PDP and a two-member party, People's Conference, allegedly failed to reach the governor.
The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP was supported by the National Conference (NC) and the Congress, while People's Conference claimed support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties. However, their bids to form a government were cut short after Malik dissolved the state assembly.
The event was marked by the criticism by PDP and NC leaders. In a sarcastic remark, NC leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, "This is the first time that a fax machine has scuttled democracy."
"This fax machine is strange, just like the traffic management in Srinagar, one way only. This machine stops working on one sign and starts working on the next sign. Only outgoing fax, no incoming fax. This fax machine needs to be investigated," Abdullah added .
Taking a dig on the issue, PDP chief Mehbooba wrote on Twitter, "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 (sic)".
When Malik said PDP should have sent a man with the letter
After giving the reason Id-e-Milad holiday for missing Mufti's letter Governor Malik then replied, "They should have known offices are closed on Eid day, the PDP should have sent a man with the letter."
"Both of them (Mehbooba and Omar) are devoted Muslims. They should know the offices are closed on Eid day. Even my cook was in his house, leave aside the fax operator. There was no system", he said countering the allegations at a press conference.
This is why Malik dissolved the state assembly
"It is a matter of bhanabazi. Even if they would have come (to deliver letter), it was my stand, what I did", Malik said.
Defending his decision to dissolve the assembly, the governor claimed "extensive horse-trading" was going on and it would have been impossible for parties with "opposing political ideologies" to form a stable government.
Malik’s political journey began in 1965. He was first elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Lok Dal MP, in 1980. In 1986, he was again elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress party leader.
Malik later joined the BJP and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2005.
(With inputs from PTI)