“Drama” is how some newspapers are choosing to describe Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s midnight call for the legislative assembly’s dissolution, which has been in animated suspension since June this year.
The Hindustan Times, however, felt let down: “J&K’s political thriller ends in anti-climax, House dissolved”.
Malik wasted no time in dissolving the assembly soon after two political coalitions staked claim to the house — the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who paired up with rival Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, and the Peoples Conference (PC) with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs and 18 other others. And when are elections to take place next? Nobody quite knows as yet: “At an appropriate time,” Greater Kashmir quotes a Raj Bhavan spokesperson saying.
The Indian Express chose to pun in a succinct summation of the developments: ‘Resolve, Dissolve’ and had extensive coverage on Page 1 and inside where it ‘Explained’ how move and counter moves from different political factions in J&K precipitated yesterday’s ‘drama’: `Making of an unlikely alliance’ (Pg 11) . The Indian Express explains that though the dissolution was the Centre’s way of flexing its muscles, the PDP, Congress, and NC are unlikely to be disarmed by the move. It says, “Though the parties have the option of challenging the dissolution in court, it is clear that they are secretly delighted with this decision. They managed to box the BJP into a corner, leaving it with a choice between two equally difficult options — dissolve the Assembly or allow an anti-BJP government.”
The Times Of India delves more on the role played by the Centre in its Page 1 report, “J&K guv dissolves assembly as Lone and Mehbooba stake claim”, quoting Home Ministry sources on the need for a stable government in the state rather than an “unlikely alliance” between PDP and NCP. But on Page 9, the TOI agrees with the Express in its analysis of how the BJP seemed to have only played into the hands of the unlikely allies by calling elections, “House dissolution: Experts see Cong, PDP &NCP ploy”.
Bharat Bhushan’s column in the Kashmir Times had foreseen a different scenario: “In the alternative J&K universe, fresh Assembly elections could be manipulated to produce a new, pliable government in Srinagar…The BJP has to only ensure a decisive win for its candidates in the Jammu and Ladakh regions.”
Now that the assembly has been dissolved, Bhushan proposes another possibility: “It is quite possible that given these uncertainties, the BJP may opt for a third alternative – of President’s Rule.” It adds, “President’s Rule will allow the BJP to pass over the hump of the general elections. Should it return to power in Delhi and also do well in Jammu and Ladakh, there will be improved prospects for a fresh Assembly election.”
For now, the Kashmir Mirror reports, the parties have expressed shock and outrage, and have “termed the entire move as “onslaught on democratic institutions.
The swift political developments in Jammu and Kashmir saw prime time news channels hastily change their scheduled debates and address the issue.
On Times Now, anchor Navika Kumar asked a hard-hitting question: “Would the governor have been better advised to allow a floor test rather than a hurried dissolution of the assembly when Mehbooba Mufti puts out her stake claim on Twitter? There is a rat that everyone is smelling here.”
To this, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra replied that he is not a spokesperson of the governor’s office but of the BJP. Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Ashutosh was more critical, saying that the governor has acted against the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami called the governor’s decision “controversial” and wondered if elections were the right move: “What are we going to get if three different parties which support the terrorists and stone pelters form the government?”
To this, author Tuhin Sinha said, “Democracy can’t be about pelting stones. BJP is strong enough to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Social activist Inam Un Nabi reminded everyone that there was another player in the drama: “The army has the upper hand in Kashmir for 30 years. A coalition government is not going to weaken the army.”
India Today’s Rahul Kanwal had an answer for Goswami: “If the BJP and PDP were once allies there now that they have joined a different coalition how do they become ‘terror-friendly parties?’.”
That left Congress leader Meen Afzal to claim that the assembly was dissolved at the behest of the Centre.
News it’s kinda cool to know
A report published in the Food Analytical Methods journal said researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, are working to develop a smartphone-based sensor which can detect adulteration in milk.
The researchers are trying to develop algorithms that can be incorporated in a smartphone to accurately detect the change in acidity, reports DownToEarth.