Former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Narendra Nath Vohra had “secretly” asked the state Law Department to look at ways and means to dissolve the present J&K Assembly after most political parties barring the Bharatiya Janata Party pressed him for the same. The Assembly is in a state of suspended animation as J&K is under Governor’s Rule.
The working president of National Conference (NC), Omar Abdullah had several times requested the Raj Bhavan to dissolve the Assembly in order to prevent any possible horse-trading. Former Chief Minister and BJP ally Mehbooba Mufti had accused the Central government of trying to break her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to form a new government in the state with the help of dissidents.
Highly placed sources told The Sunday Guardian that the Ministry of Home Affairs got an intelligence alert that the Raj Bhavan may dissolve the Assembly suddenly, paying heed to the demands. It was after this tip-off that the Centre suddenly gave the marching orders to Vohra and appointed Satya Pal Malik as the new Governor. Malik took oath in less than 24 hours after his appointment was announced.
Sources in the state secretariat said that the Raj Bhavan had mooted a secret proposal to the state Law Department to dissolve the Assembly. Vohra, apparently, had refused to be a part of any informal exercise inviting the BJP to form a new government in the state. The specific intelligence input that the Centre received from Srinagar said that Vohra would instead recommend the dissolution of the state Assembly.
The BJP lawmakers had been pressing for a new Governor and a recent video which has gone viral shows the state BJP chief Ravender Raina claiming that new Governor Satya Pal Malik was their man in the Raj Bhavan. The BJP lawmakers were also upset that Vohra had stopped them from spending their Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The new Governor reversed that order hours after assuming charge.
Some media reports suggested that Vohra was also upset with the new state Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam for not paying heed to his instructions. The new Chief Secretary was said to have received clear instructions from the Centre to take control of the entire administration. Subrahmanyam was unwilling to share his authority with Raj Bhavan, a senior functionary in the state secretariat told this newspaper.
Although Vohra had conveyed to the Central government that he was not interested in any more extensions of his post, New Delhi had told him to continue till an alternative was found. But his term was concluded in a sudden manner and he was not allowed to even continue for some more days so that he could thank the people in Ladakh and Jammu regions too. Sources said that a similar intelligence alert from Srinagar had led to the BJP’s sudden withdrawal of support from the erstwhile Mehbooba Mufti government. Mehbooba Mufti had denied having any intention to dump her then ally BJP and had clarified that the alert was false.
Satya Pal Malik has said that he would open the Raj Bhavan for the common people and would ask the administration to mitigate the sufferings of the common man. But questions are being asked whether he would be able to deliver.