October 2002 News

Governor''s rule imposed in Jammu and Kashmir

17 October 2002
The Hindu

SRINAGAR: Exactly after the expiry of the six-year term of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Governor''s rule was imposed tonight for six months following the refusal of the outgoing Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, to continue as caretaker head of government. The State Assembly, which came into existence after the recent elections, has been put under suspended animation. The Raj Bhavan issued two notifications to the effect late in the night. The Governor, Girish Chandra Saxena, issued the notifications after consulting a battery of high-level State officials and the Union Home Ministry and after getting the concurrence of the President. However, political parties aspiring to form the government in the last seven days have been asked to come at any time to stake their claim after having the magic number of 44 in the 87-member Assembly. Earlier in the day, there was high drama when Dr. Abdullah called on Mr. Saxena and requested him to relieve him of his charge after midnight. ''I do not have the moral right to continue as Chief Minister since the Assembly by virtue of which my Government was in office would cease to exist tonight'' he told a press conference. ''I am waiting for the Governor''s response. Then I will decide'' he said. However, this was followed by telephonic calls by the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, who asked Dr. Abdullah to continue. The Governor, too, wrote to him asking him to continue till October 21, the deadline set for political parties to come with the majority needed to form the government. But late in the evening, Dr. Abdullah conferred with his party leaders and conveyed his inability to continue as caretaker Chief Minister. This led to a serious crisis in official and political circles which finally forced the Governor to take the extreme step. However, the Governor told the political parties that they were free to come anytime with the numbers and stake their claim. ''He told us that he can revoke the Governor''s rule on his own once the parties come with numbers'', the Pradesh Congress Committee president and Congresss Legislature Party leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, told The Hindu late in the night. ''We will continue the efforts and try to form the government as soon as possible'', he said. He was, however, surprised why Dr. Abdullah took more than 10 hours to convey the decision to the Governor. The Legislature Party leader of the People''s Democratic Forum(PDF) and CPI (M) State Secretary, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, said ''this is unfortunate and the vested interests right from Srinagar to Delhi have finally succeeded in subverting the democratic process''. The National Conference had emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats followed by the Congress with 20 and the People''s Democratic Party with 16. The Congress and the PDP had started negotiations on government formation but failed to agree on the issue of Chief Ministership.


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