Jammu and Kashmir Assembly dissolved: The curious case of Mehbooba Mufti's letter, Satya Pal Malik's fax machine
Was the governor's residence in Jammu empty on Wednesday evening when the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tried to fax her claim of government-formation?
Was the governor's residence in Jammu — the Winter Capital of Jammu and Kashmir — empty on Wednesday evening when the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tried to fax her claim of government-formation? On Thursday, Governor Satya Pal Malik told NDTV that Wedensday was the day of Eid and there was "no one in the Raj Bhavan to even give me food".
But claims made by former chief minister Omar Abdullah undermine those of Malik. The instructions for not taking "any fax or documents had come from the top BJP leadership in New Delhi", Omar said on Wednesday. "For the first time, a fax machine throttled democracy. It is such a fax machine that doesn't receive faxes, but can send a fax of dissolution of the Assembly. It was only an outgoing fax [machine] it seems," he said.
He was referring to the letter sent by Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister, who on Wednesday staked a claim for government formation, but was unable to reach Malik. She then took to Twitter to make her claim public, propelling the fax machine onto social media where it has become the butt of jokes.
After Malik arrived in Jammu from New Delhi on Wednesday afternoon, he drove straight to Raj Bhavan. His private secretary, Virender Rana, his ADC Major Vipin Yadav, and the principle secretary to the governor, Umang Narula, who issued the order of dissolving Assembly, were present at the Raj Bhavan. They stayed there till late in the evening and so did the clerical staff, many of whom have been brought from outside the state.
Sources said Malik has at least seven people working as clerical staff. They have all been brought from outside the state and they too were present at the Raj Bhavan till late in the evening and left only after the dissolution order was passed.
The ADC of the governor, Major Vipin Yadav, confirmed that the governor's residence house was "not empty, people were there. But many were on leave as it was a state holiday".
"We were in Raj Bhavan. We did not receive any fax from her," Yadav said referring to Mehbooba's claims, "The office may not have been open at that particular time, since it was a holiday."
But Malik said in an interview on Thursday, "Even if I had got the fax, my decision would have been the same.
"I decided to dissolve the state Assembly and didn’t allow a government to be formed because of what was going in the state since last fortnight," he said, responding to Mehbooba's allegation that he didn't receive her calls and fax, staking claim to power.
A top Raj Bhavan source and other sources in the administration said that it was a "national leader of the BJP" who instructed them not to receive any documents from anyone, even if someone appeared or brought it to the Raj Bhavan. "There were instructions from the top to stop any communication from reaching Raj Bhavan on Wednesday. We were explicitly told not to receive any document from anyone. It was decided that if a document comes, we will have to avoid it and not accept it at all," the source said.
The state president of the BJP, Ravinder Raina, said the decision of Malik was "the only way out" and it was the "conspiracy by anti-national elements", to form a government against the people of Jammu. He said the governor is the constitutional authority "who had to take a call on the dissolution of the Assembly... Why are they (NC-PDP and Congress) pained that the governor has taken this decision? They were demanding it [dissolution of Assembly] for the past many months, now if the governor has done it, what is wrong with that? The coming together of these people was against the people of Jammu."
Raina, however, declined to comment on the issue that it was on the instruction of BJP that the governor's office was told to not to entertain any communication from parties with regards to government formation.
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