The panic action by Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik in dissolving the State assembly which had been placed into animated suspension earlier has made no one seriously unhappy in the opposition ranks as this was their demand and same was not being conceded because BJP was trying to install a new Government with the help of PDP rebels. Mr Sajjad lone, a Minister in the PDP led Government was leading these efforts with the help of BJP leaders.
These efforts looked like succeeding when Mr Muzzaffar Hussain Baig a senior member of PDP and one of its founders announced that he may support the third front if it was in position to form the Government. This led to opposition parties announcing that they were holding consultations to form a new coalition with PDP, NC and Congress joining hands to form a popular Government. Such a coalition will have the numbers . This created a panic in BJP ranks who started calling such a coalition as anti-national and inspired by Pakistan.
The BJP leaders obviously overlooked the fact that only six month ago they were a part of the coalition led by same people. To prevent it Mr Lone sent a letter to Governor offering to form a Government and claimed a majority without giving details how he will get numbers. In this process the only party which lost face is BJP as no one from Congress or National Conference was keen to form a Government as they only wanted that the Assembly be dissolved which was done.
It is no secret that BJP had been keen to build majority by going for defections to form Government. This is often achieved by using unfair means or popularly called Horse trading. Through such means BJP has been able to install its Governments in Goa and some states in North East but they failed in Karnataka and now in Jammu and Kashmir. The opposition has seen through such tactics and has become wiser.
In this process not only BJP has lot face but Central Government reputation has suffered. As impression has gone around that Delhi would go to any extent to help the party supporting Center and will not allow regional parties to install a Government of their choice. It has also created a situation in which the polls for State Assembly will have to be held along with poll for Lok Sabha. Looking at present situation one wonders how it will be possible as militants and Hurriyaat Conference will boycot the poll.
The issue of law and order will also have to be considered as Centere will find it difficult to spare Central forces for conducting elections in Jammu and Kashmir if they are to be held along with national poll. The obvious conclusion is that initially by keeping State Assembly in animated suspension and now dissolving it in panic, the Central Government has created problems which could have been avoided.
As for BJP there is a lesson that tactics like building majority in State Assemblies where they have failed to win majority is not going to be easy as opposition parties have become wiser to their tactics and not much is gained by such tactics in the long run. In coming elections there are going to e close calls in case of many state Assemblies and the role of Governors will become crucial in installing of Governments. Any attempts to act in partisan manner will be difficult as Courts are likely to intervene . This has happened in last four years leading to loss of face . The same should be avoided in future as institutions like Election Commission, Judiciary and Governors should be respected and any attempts to lower their reputation will hurt our democracy.
In respect of Jammu and Kashmir we need to be extra careful as an impression that democracy is not extended by India beyond the Banihal tunnel should not gain currency. >
Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator