National Conference President Omar Abdullah has said that chief minister has the "sole prerogative" to dissolve the Assembly and order fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Citing the unique constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir where the chief minister alone has this prerogative unlike other states where the entire cabinet has to agree on the dissolution of the Assembly, Omar told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, "as and when elections are called, his party is ready to face the polls."
"In Jammu and Kashmir, the Governor is bound by the advice of chief minister on this count. When Mufti Sayeed (of PDP) was chief minister (2002-2005), he could have done the same even if National Conference and Congress had entered into an alliance to stall that," Omar said while reiterating the constitutional arrangement in Jammu and Kashmir, where Article 370 makes it a special state within the Indian union.
NC with 28 and Congress with 20 could have been a majority alliance in the House of 87. PDP had only 16 MLAs.
Omar Abdullah was commenting on the developments that have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir in the past two days during which Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP leader and Finance Minister Tariq Hameed Karra have sparred over who has the prerogative to dissolve the Assembly.
On Monday, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad infuriated by what he perceived as extra constitutional behaviour of the ally PDP's ministers, had threatened to dissolve the Assembly. Next day, Karra had said that it was not the "sole prerogative" of the chief minister, especially in coalition politics.
National Conference — the party that has ruled the state for most of the years since independence — is watching these developments. "We are alive to the situation," Omar said and clearly stated that if elections are called, then "National Conference would prefer facing the polls rather than joining any hazard alliance with the Congress. We would not like to attract any anti-incumbency factors to us."
Omar's grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had recommended dissolution of the Assembly in March 1977, even when his party had only three MLAs, and Congress had withdrawn the support.
In 1984, his father Farooq Abdullah's government was dismissed because of defections by 12 MLAs, and GM Shah was installed as chief minister. "At that time, chief minister had not recommended dissolution of Assembly," Omar noted.
As the fissures are widening between Congress and PDP, National Conference is refocusing on its political field. "We are getting huge response to our public meetings and we have entered the untapped areas," Omar said.
"We are much better off today," he said while drawing the parallels to the situation in 2002, when the party lost elections because of the anti-incumbency factor and a much heightened campaign of healing touch of PDP.