Friday, October 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Governor’s rule in J&K
Farooq refuses to be caretaker CM
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 17
Governor’s rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir late tonight after a week-long stalemate over the formation of a new government and Dr Farooq Abdullah declining to continue as caretaker Chief Minister.

According to an official spokesman, the Governor, Mr Girish Chander Saxena, this evening initiated action for the imposition of Governor’s rule in the state. Quoting Raj Bhavan sources, the spokesman said this would come into force from midnight tonight.

The stalemate over the formation of a new government took a new turn late this evening, with Dr Abdullah declining to continue as caretaker Chief Minister after the expiry of the present term of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. This led to a constitutional crisis in the state as no party was in a position to stake claim for the formation of a new government.

The stalemate took a new turn following a nearly two-hour meeting of senior functionaries of the ruling National Conference here this evening. The meeting was attended among others by the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference President, Mr Omar Abdullah, and other senior party leaders at the Gupkar residence of the Chief Minister. The meeting started at about 6.30 p.m. and lasted till 8.10 p.m. this evening. The Chief Minister and the National Conference President were not available for comment after the meeting

It also came as a surprise following the appeal of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and for the second time by the Governor, Mr Girish Chander Saxena, to Dr Abdullah to continue till a new arrangement was made.

Dr Abdullah, who tendered his resignation on October 11, a day after the counting of votes was over, had been asked by the Governor to continue in office till an alternative arrangement was made. The two major political parties, the Congress with 20 MLAs and the PDP with 16 MLAs could not arrive at any agreement to form a coalition government over the past seven days, while the ruling National Conference, being the single largest party with 28 members did not stake a claim to form the new government. A party requires 44 members in the 87-member House for the formation of a government in Jammu and Kashmir.

As the Governor yesterday extended the deadline for the formation of a new government till October 21, he asked the Chief Minister to continue as caretaker till Monday.

The Chief Minister drove to Raj Bhavan this morning and held a over 40-minute meeting with the Governor, requesting him that he had “no moral right to be in office after midnight tonight”. The term of the present Legislative Assembly elected in 1996 expires today.

The PCC chief and CLP leader, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was scheduled to leave for New Delhi for consultations with senior party leaders, including the party President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, on the issue, had to cancel his visit later today. This decision was taken after the Chief Minister this morning announced his decision not to continue as caretaker Chief Minister after he had a meeting with the Governor.

The National Conference, soon after the declaration of results of the Assembly elections on Thursday last, had made it clear that it was not staking its claim to form the government even as it emerged as the single largest party in the Legislative Assembly. The stalemate continued since then even as the two major parties, the Congress, having made inroads in the Jammu region, and the PDP, bagging 16 seats in its first innings, could not reach any agreement to form a coalition. Both parties remained stuck to their respective positions and could not pave the way for any breakthrough. The PDP leader and former Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was adamant on his party getting to lead the coalition government with the Congress for having got a mandate for its manifesto.

Another group of eight Independent members, united under the banner of the Democratic People’s Forum (PDF), and other MLAs led by a CPM MLA, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, here the other day urged the Governor to extend the term of the formation of a government.

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