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Opposition parties up in arms over J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s remarks on Centre’s choice

On Saturday, speaking at function in ITM University, Gwalior, Malik said that had he looked to New Delhi for counsel, “in history, I would have been remembered as a dishonest person.”

india Updated: Nov 28, 2018 23:17 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
governor,Satya Pal Malik,Centre
Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik addresses a gathering in New Delhi. (PTI)

Remarks by Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik that knowledge that the Centre would ask him to install People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone as the new chief minister if he looked to it for directions, prompted him to dissolve the assembly last week, have drawn a sharp reaction from political parties in the state.

On Saturday, speaking at function in ITM University, Gwalior, Malik said that had he looked to New Delhi for counsel, “in history, I would have been remembered as a dishonest person.”

“So I finished this matter [by dissolving the assembly],” he said, according to a video clip of his address. “Even if they abuse me, I am convinced that I have done the right work.”

On November 21, Malik dissolved the assembly after Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti staked claim for forming a government with the support of rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress.

She said it had the support of 56 members in the 87-seat assembly. Lone, whose party has two legislators, made a rival bid for power, claiming to have the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 25 lawmakers and “more than” 18 others.

Malik, who became J&K governor in August, said in Gwalior that Lone sent his letter on WhatsApp to an official who turned out to be the personal assistant of the former governor. Mufti tried to send a fax to the governor and to reach him over phone, but eventually had to tag the Governor’s Twitter account to stake claim.

A Raj Bhawan spokesperson in Jammu on Tuesday clarified that the governor, in taking the decision to dissolve the J&K legislative assembly on the night of November 21, acted in an “objective and impartial” manner. “There was no pressure or any kind of intervention from the Centre in the entire matter,” he said in a statement.

Governor Malik has broadly explained the last-minute dissolution of the state assembly to fears that politicians would have formed what he had described as an “opportunistic” regime.

The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP and Omar Abdullah’s NC, who came together in a rare move, have attacked the governor’s timing of dissolving the house.

Abdullah wrote on Twitter: “I really don’t know what to make of Governor Sb revelations in Gwalior. We know the BJP & its proxies were desperate to form a government through horse trading & use of money but we’ve also never known a politically appointed governor going against the wishes of the centre.”

PDP president and former J&K chief minister Mufti termed the admission of governor unprecedented. “Leaving aside the fax machine fiasco, good to see that governor Sb refused to take dictation from Delhi, and rather opted for dissolution of assembly. This could be unprecedented, given the story of democracy in the state,’’ she said on Twitter.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the governor had “exposed” the fact that the BJP had made efforts to form a state government and install as chief minister, a person whose party had just two legislators. “From day one BJP wanted to install the government in J&K by encouraging defections, horse trading and other things. Governor Malik has exposed the plot of the BJP,’’ Mir said.

BJP state spokesman Altaf Thakur said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a free hand to the governor unlike during “Congress rule, when decisions were taken in New Delhi and implemented in the state.” He added: “For the first time, the governor has been... directed to take those decisions which he feels are good for the state.”

On Tuesday, Lone complained of a misrepresentation of facts and gross distortion of certain events that unfolded. “I want to put the record straight. On that particular day when we all staked a claim [to form the government], I was the first one to talk to him on the phone and tell him my intention. The governor asked me to send a fax. Thereafter for three hours we tried to unsuccessfully send a fax to the Raj Bhawan. The fax would not go through. I called the governor’s secretary who had earlier put me on to him. He would not take the call. For three hours we tried and could not get through any of the Raj Bhawan numbers,” he said.

“Whenever I said that I would stake a claim, it would be done under the ambit of a constitutional provision and would be totally legitimate. I don’t know since when they have made constitutional provisions and solutions illegal – that is for the governor to clarify. We had the numbers and would have emerged victorious in a constitutionally legitimate method,” he said.

First Published: Nov 27, 2018 23:51 IST