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Delhi wanted Sajad as CM, I chose not: Guv

Srinagar, Nov 27: Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik has purportedly said he would have made People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone the chief minister of the state had he listened to instructions from the Centre.

A video in which the Governor claims so surfaced on Tuesday and was widely reported by the Indian media.

“If I had listened to Delhi, I would have had to install Sajad Lone as CM, and I would have become dishonest forever,” Mali, as per the video, is seen saying during an event in Gwalior on November 24.

The remark is another in his list of debatable comments after the controversy over a supposedly non-functional fax machine last week.

On 21 November, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had sent an official communique to the Raj Bhawan via fax, staking claim to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the Congress and National Conference. S

She later tweeted saying that her fax was not going through to the governor’s office in Jammu, and thus she was making their decision public as a last resort to reach out to Malik.

Soon after Mehbooba’s claim, Lone also claimed he had tried to send his letter to the governor staking claim to form the government — with the support of BJP MLAs — via fax, but after receiving no response, he said he sent a copy of the letter to Malik’s personal assistant on WhatsApp and shared a screenshot of the same.

Not long after Mehbooba and Lone’s claims, Malilk announced his decision to dissolve the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

The next day, in a bemusing turn of events, Malik had claimed he had not received either letter as it was a holiday at the Raj Bhawan on account of Eid, and there was no one to man the fax machine.

On Tuesday, the J&K Raj Bhavan spokesperson claimed that the Governor, while taking the decision to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, acted in an “objective and impartial manner.”

“There was no pressure or any kind of intervention from the Centre in the entire matter and some News Channels are misinterpreting Governor’s statement and putting them out of context to convey that there was pressure from the Central Government,” the spokesperson said.

Speaking to India Today on Tuesday after the video of him making the remarks surfaced, Malik claimed there was no political pressure on him or any interference from the Centre in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, and that his decision was “completely apolitical”.

He reiterated that the sole intention behind his decision to dissolve the Assembly was to ensure that Jammu and Kashmir gets a “stable and elected government”.

Malik told India Today he did not want any “hanky panky, underhand… defection. “Let them go to the polls, … I want the people to decide who they want to form the government,” he said, while avoiding questions on his purported statements from the video.

The governor also claimed that Mehbooba had never called him even though he is “always available on call”, and that Lone had sent his letter to the personal assistant of the previous governor instead.

He said he did not receive any list of supporting MLAs from either side staking claim to form the government until Mehbooba went public with the development the next day. “I was convinced that none of the parties had the numbers. They would have only indulged in horsetrading,” Malik said.

Since the BJP walked out of an alliance with Mehobooba’s PDP on 19 June, Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor’s Rule. The central government has proposed to hold the elections in the state along with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.