Omar Quits As Caretaker CM, Guv Rule Imminent In J&K

8 January 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Caretaker Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has stepped down with immediate effect and requested Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra to place the state under Governor's rule till the next government is formed. The Governor has sent his report about the constitutional crisis - where the caretaker Chief Minister has resigned and there is no alternative political government in sight - to President Pranab Mukherjee, sources said. It is also reliably learnt that one of the options suggested in the report is to invite the leader of the single largest group in the Assembly to form the government and ask him-her to prove the majority on the floor of the Assembly. This means that if the state doesn't come under Governor's rule, the new government to be sworn-in will have to prove its majority within a specified period, ranging from three to four weeks. In that case, PDP, the party with the largest number of seats (28), could be invited to form the government. It is then for the PDP to accept the invitation or reject it. At the moment, it is 16 short of the majority of 44 in the House of 87. The Congress with 12, NC with 15 and three of the seven Independents have offered support to PDP patron Mufti Sayeed to form the government. That places the PDP in a comfortable majority of 58 in the House. The final call on this ticklish issue will have to be taken by the President, the sources said. Omar had handed over the letter of his resignation to the Governor in New Delhi last night. The President's approval is mandatory for the imposition of Governor's rule or for making any alternative arrangement in Jammu and Kashmir in the given situation. As a result of its special status under Article 370, the state will come under Governor's rule for the first six months. All the executive and legislative powers will be vested with the Governor for this period. As the caretaker Chief Minister has written in his letter that he was stepping down with immediate effect and did not relent to staying in office till January 19, when the current term of the Assembly expires, the state is all set to come under Governor's rule unless a political miracle happens in a day or two, sources said. This peculiar situation is a result of the fractured mandate that the December 23 results of the Assembly poll had delivered. No party was close to the simple majority of 44. The verdict was badly fractured - PDP getting 28, BJP 25, National Conference 15, Congress 12 and others seven. The Governor's report, according to sources, not only points to the constitutional crisis but also cites the precedent that in 2002, after the resignation of the caretaker Chief Minister that year, a brief spell of Governor's rule had enabled the parties to cobble up the numbers and form the government. Then, caretaker Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had submitted his resignation on October 18, 2002 - the last day of the then Assembly. It also mentions how the NC that time with 28 seats had refused to form the government despite being the largest party on that occasion. The Congress and PDP had failed to come to any agreement then. It was after a fortnight-long Governor's rule - from October 18 midnight to November 2, 2002 - that the new government came into place and the Governor's rule was lifted. Omar Abdullah told The Tribune over the phone from New Delhi, 'I have stepped down. Now, it is for the Governor to push the papers to Rashtrapati Bhavan and place the state under Governor's rule.' The outgoing Chief Minister said that he had taken this step 'because there was no government. Practically, there was no government since September last year when the floods hit the state'. He asserted that this was his 'considered decision.' Omar said that the 'shelling on the borders and the displacement of more than 10,000 people, and the non-responsive administration with regard to the woes of the people who were affected by the floods had made him feel bad for the state and made him step down'. In his letter too, he has mentioned these reasons, saying that definitive action was needed to address the crisis. He said that the idea behind this move was to have an administrator to look after the problems of the people. 'I think that once the Governor's rule is there, there would be an administrator and the administration and police would work,' Omar said. Omar said that his caretaker government was able to do nothing because of the 'non-responsive administration'. He said that the situation was different than what it was in 2002 when his father had waited till October 18, 2002 - the last day of the then Assembly - to step down as caretaker Chief Minister. 'This time, the border is alive and the people are living in relief camps. That's why I took this considered decision,' he said.