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NC says CM has the sole prerogative to dissolve the Assembly

Omar said J&K chief minister has the "sole prerogative" to dissolve the Assembly and order fresh elections in the state, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 15:37 IST
Arun Joshi

National Conference President Omar Abdullahhas said thatchief minister has the "soleprerogative"todissolve the Assembly and order fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Citing the uniqueconstitutional 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 toldHindustan 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 MuftiSayeed(of PDP) waschiefminister (2002-2005), he could havedone the same evenif National Conference and Congresshad entered into an alliance tostall that," Omar saidwhile reiterating the constitutional arrangementin Jammu and Kashmir, where Article 370makes it a special state within the Indian union.

NC with 28 and Congress with 20could have been a majority alliance in the House of 87. PDP had only 16 MLAs.

Omar Abdullah wascommenting on the developments that have taken place in Jammu and Kashmirin the past two daysduring which ChiefMinister Ghulam NabiAzad and PDP leader andFinance Minister Tariq Hameed Karrahave sparred overwho has the prerogativeto 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 threatenedto 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 andclearly stated that if elections are called, then "National Conferencewould prefer facing the polls rather than joining any hazard alliance with the Congress. We would not like to attract any anti-incumbency factors tous."

Omar's grandfatherSheikh Mohammad Abdullah had recommended dissolution of the Assembly in March 1977, evenwhenhis party had only three MLAs, and Congress had withdrawn the support.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 chiefminister."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 itspoliticalfield."We are getting huge responseto ourpublic meetings and we have entered theuntapped areas," Omar said.

"We are much better offtoday," he said while drawing the parallelsto the situation in 2002, when the party lost elections because of the anti-incumbency factor and a muchheightened campaignof healing touch of PDP.

First Published: Dec 20, 2006 15:35 IST