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After rival claims, J&K Guv Malik dissolves assembly

After rival claims, J&K Guv Malik dissolves assembly

SRINAGAR: In a dramatic development, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state assembly as both Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference leader Sajad Lone and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government in the state.

While Sajad Lone claimed he has the support of 26 BJP legislators and 18 others, which would cross the majority mark of 44, Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti says she has the support of the Congress and the National Conference, taking their collective total to 56.

"As you are aware that Peoples Democratic Party is the largest party in the State assembly having a strength of 29. You might have gathered from the media reports that the Congress and National Conference has a strength of 15 and the Congress 12. That takes over collective strength to 56," her letter reads.

The majority mark in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly is 44.

The coalition is meant to thwart what sources allege are the BJP's attempts to engineer defections and take power in the state where six-month central rule ends next month. If it takes shape, such a coalition could be the blueprint for the much-discussed BJP vs Rest contest in the 2019 national election.

The BJP described it as a desperate attempt by the parties to keep their flock together. "Their attempts to come together will not succeed," said a BJP leader.

The BJP, which dumped the PDP and forced Mehbooba Mufti to quit as chief minister in June, supports a "third front" led by Sajjad Gani Lone of the People's Conference.

The BJP has 26 members, and Sajjad Lone's party has just two lawmakers, but reports suggest attempts to split the PDP and poach Congress and National Conference lawmakers to raise enough numbers for a majority. There is a theory that if these attempts fail, the centre will aim at state elections in March.

Earlier on Wednesday, senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari set the cat among the pigeons saying, the PDP, National Conference and Congress had decided to join hands to form a new government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary was summoned to Delhi and met officials in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office or the PMO.

Curiously after the Governor's decision, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that nobody was keen to form a government neither was National Conference eager to form a government; Congress was not keen at all to form a government - it was just a suggestion.

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