Mehbooba Mufti’s letter to Satya Pal Malik was meant to prevent BJP-backed Sajad Lone from forming the government. But the governor took the bait.
New Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik and the BJP jumped the gun in dissolving the state assembly Wednesday evening. It was meant to pre-empt a non-BJP coalition from forming the government, but it was a panic reaction, as the prospective alliance partners were yet to arrive at any agreement on even the modalities of their alliance.
Ambika Soni, the Congress’ general secretary in-charge of Jammu & Kashmir, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference did have telephonic conversations, and they did agree in principle on the formation of a “democratic, secular government” to prevent the BJP from coming to power, allegedly by engineering defections. But it was at a very incipient stage, those involved in the deliberations told ThePrint.
The three leaders had no discussions on whether the Congress and the NC would be part of the government, or would support it from outside. There was no discussion on the chief ministerial candidate either.
All that they had agreed on was to form a committee comprising two or three members from each party to discuss how to take things forward. The Congress had convened a meeting of 40 senior leaders from the state in New Delhi Friday to seek their feedback.
Mufti’s letter to the governor, which didn’t reach him, was meant to be “an expression of intent” to form the government, and to put it on record that 56 non-BJP MLAs — in the 87-member state Assembly — were together, and so the governor could not invite the BJP if it staked claim, leaders in the know said.
“We knew what Sajad Lone (the People’s Conference leader who claimed to have the support of 25 BJP MLAs and 18 others) and the BJP were up to. Our priority was to prevent the governor from inviting him to form the government, and so Mehbooba Mufti sent the letter,” said a Congress leader.
“We don’t know how things would have unfolded if the governor had not dissolved the assembly. But we are happy about what he did. We want early elections now.”
Malik showed a clear lack of understanding of the state of play when he took Mufti’s bait.
As it is, the Congress and the NC look set to form an alliance and are seen to have an advantage, given the beating the PDP’s image took in the Valley due to its tie-up with the BJP.
It’s difficult to comprehend how these two parties would help the PDP salvage its image to an extent by letting it lead a non-BJP coalition. These issues would have come up for serious discussion when the Congress and the NC would’ve started internal deliberations, and the proposed committee would’ve met to thrash out the modalities of the alliance and the government.
The inherent contradictions in this incipient alliance would have got exposed sooner than they had bargained for. But the governor and the BJP saved them the blushes.