Satya Pal Malik favours early state elections in Jammu and Kashmir, says popular govt cannot be formed from present Assembly

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has favoured holding of early election to the Assembly, saying he does not think a popular government can be formed out of the present house after the collapse of the BJP-PDP coalition dispensation in June.

The state has been under Governor's rule since Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti resigned as chief minister in June following the withdrawal of support by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to her government.

File image of Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik. News18

File image of Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik. News18

There have been speculations about behind-the-scene efforts to put together a new government. No party enjoys a majority in the 87-member Assembly, in which the PDP has 28 MLAs, the BJP 25 and the National Conference 15.

Putting such speculations to rest, Malik told PTI in an interview in Srinagar that he would not be part of any shenanigans.

Asked if a popular government can be formed out of the present Assembly, the Governor replied, "I don't think so. At least, I will not be part of any 'dhandli' (shenanigans). I have not been given any such indication either by the prime minister or by any other central leader."

To a question on holding of fresh elections to the Assembly whose tenure ends in December 2020, Malik said that he wished that the elections were held at the earliest.

"The decision will be taken by the Centre and the Election Commission. My job is to discharge dual responsibility (of Governor and administrator) which I will continue to do... I wish that elections are held at the earliest," he said.

On the contentious issue of Article 35A of the Constitution, which empowers the state's legislature to define the permanent residents and provide them special rights, the Governor said that his administration would seek deferment of the hearings on the matter in the Supreme Court.

"We will inform the Supreme Court that we are not an elected government and request that the matter be deferred till an elected government is in place," he said.

The Supreme Court, in its 31 August order, has directed that the matter be listed in the second week of January 2019.

The challenge to Article 35A has led to widespread protests in Kashmir and prompted two major mainstream parties - the National Conference and the PDP - to boycott the recent local body elections, results of which were declared on Sunday.

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Updated Date: Oct 21, 2018 15:36 PM

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