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Omar warns of ‘threat to democracy’ from horse trading amid reports of PDP split

Over a dozen PDP lawmakers are reported to be planning to quit the party to form a government with the BJP. At least four legislators, including former minister Imran Ansari, have revolted against the party since it lost power following the BJP’s withdrawal of support last month.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2018 07:45 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Omar Abdullah,PDP,National Conference
National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah evaded questions about the BJP’s reported attempt to put in place a Hindu CM from the state’s Jammu region with deputies from the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.(HT/File Photo)

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday highlighted the danger posed to democracy by horse trading amid reports of imminent defections from and a potential split in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the arch rival of his National Conference (NC).

Over a dozen PDP lawmakers are reported to be planning to quit the party to form a government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). At least four legislators, including former minister Imran Ansari, have revolted against the party since it lost power following the BJP’s withdrawal of support last month.

“Anybody who belongs to a political party and more so a party like National Conference, which has faced conspiracies of defections many times, will never support defection. No one has forgotten what happened in 1984 when the government of Farooq Abdullah faced defection,” Abdullah said in an interview. “Or how between 2002 and 2005 how (PDP leader and then chief minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed tried to split the party (NC).”

Abdullah called the trouble brewing within the PDP “the party’s internal matter”. But he insisted they “are all part of a system and as politicians, our ultimate loyalty should be towards the democratic system”.

Abdullah said there was a lot of “speculation and confusion” in Kashmir over the split reports. “Only two or three MLAs have openly spoken against the leadership and distanced themselves from the party but have not resigned. Some people are saying 14 MLAs are going. Some say, 18, 20... we will just have to wait and watch.”

The National Conference leader ruled out staking a claim for the government formation, saying the party does not have the mandate to do so. “We did not have the mandate then, we do not have the mandate now. We cannot stake a claim for the government formation.”

He evaded questions about the BJP’s reported attempt to put in place a Hindu CM from the state’s Jammu region with deputies from the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. “Whoever has the support of a majority in the assembly can be the chief minister.”

Abdullah called for fresh elections at an “appropriate time’’ but said setting up a time frame for them was “unrealistic’’. “They (the government) have not been able to hold elections for a seat vacated about two years ago and even after repeatedly saying that they will hold panchayat elections year after year, there have been no panchayat elections,’’ he said while referring to the vacant Anantnag parliamentary seat, which has remained vacant since Mehbooba Mufti left it after becoming the chief minister in April 2016 .

Abdullah said no one wants endless governor’s rule, but he underlined it will take time for the situation to improve.

First Published: Jul 07, 2018 07:39 IST