Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik today (Tuesday, Nov 27) defended his statement that had he consulted the Centre, he would have had to make Sajjad Lone the chief minister.
While saying the Modi government wanted him to instal Sajad Lone as the state’s chief minister, he told India Today that Lone was the first person to stake a claim to form a new government. Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (which was part of the other prospective alliance) weren’t serious about forming a government, and wanted to see the state assembly dissolved, he said.
Malik said there was no political pressure or interference from the Centre, and that he was “completely apolitical”.
In an event on November 24 in Gwalior, Malik had said if he had listened to “Delhi”, “I would have had to instal Sajad Lone as CM, and I would have become dishonest forever.”
“Had I looked towards Delhi (the centre), then I would have been forced to invite Sajad Lone to form the government,” the Governor said at a convocation in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior on Saturday.
“Then I would have gone down in history as unscrupulous. But I ended the whole thing. Those who want to abuse me can do so, but I am convinced I did the right thing,” Malik stressed, according to a NDTV report.
He told CNN-News18, “Whatever I said is right. Sajad Lone has the numbers, obviously Delhi will push for him.”
The Governor repeated his earlier claim that PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah made no “serious” efforts to get in touch with him. “You can’t just fax or tweet and form the government. Why didn’t they come to Jammu? Why did they not call me?” he said.
The governor had faced questions after dissolving the assembly and had been accused by parties like the Congress and PDP of taking instructions from the BJP-led central government.
Countering Malik, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said the Assembly should have been given a chance to see the numbers for itself. “He (Malik) has to defend himself in front of the government in Delhi, and you know what the government is all about. The Assembly should have seen who has the majority. It cannot be decided in the Raj Bhawan. Why didn’t they dissolve the Assembly earlier,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir assembly was abruptly dissolved by Governor Malik on Wednesday night last week hours after the PDP staked claim to form a government with the backing of rival National Conference (NC) and the Congress followed by another bid from the two-member People’s Conference which claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.
Things moved swiftly thereafter with Sajad Lone, leader of the People’s Conference, which has one MLA besides him, also sending a Whatsapp communication to Malik staking his claim for government formation with the support of the 25-member BJP and “more than 18 other elected members” whose names he did not provide.
Mehbooba Mufti claimed she could not reach the Governor either by fax or phone. After failing to fax her letter, she tweeted it out. Sajad Lone also said he had been told the machine wasn’t working and had been asked to WhatsApp his letter, which he did. There were questions about how Lone managed to reach the Governor’s office when Mufti failed to do so.