India dissolves Kashmir assembly, fresh polls likely

Jittery over a 'grand alliance' bid to form government, the BJP-backed governor dissolves the state assembly.

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    In past two years, Kashmir saw a spike in gun battles between security forces and the rebels (Mukhtar Khan/AP)
    In past two years, Kashmir saw a spike in gun battles between security forces and the rebels (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

    Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir - The legislative assembly in India-administered Kashmir has been dissolved, a move likely to lead to fresh elections in the troubled state that has seen violence escalate in the last few years.

    Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the assembly on Wednesday, shortly after former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form the government by forming a "grand alliance" with two rival parties.

    Mufti, whose People's Democratic Party (PDP) had 29 legislators in the 87-member assembly, claimed she had the support of the National Conference (NC), which had 15, and 12 from the Congress.

    Minutes later, Sajad Lone of the People's Conference (PC), posted on Twitter a letter he said he had sent to Malik, claiming he had the support of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form his government.

    But Governor Malik, in a statement, said "there is the impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies".

    "The best course of action is to dissolve the assembly so as to provide stability and security to the state and hold elections at an appropriate time so that a government with a clear mandate is duly formed," the statement said. 

    Until June this year, the Jammu and Kashmir state was ruled by a coalition of the Hindu nationalist BJP and the PDP formed in 2015.

    The alliance, touted as the coming together of the "north and south poles", was fraught with friction between the two partners on how to deal with the issues facing the region.

    In June, the BJP withdrew its support for the PDP, forcing Mufti to resign in protest against the "muscular policy" in Kashmir", which referred to the hard line tactics adopted by the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    As a result, the governor's rule was imposed in the state, effectively giving Modi's government direct control over the troubled state.

    On Wednesday, the BJP hit out at the "grand alliance" parties, calling them "terror-friendly".

    "Jammu and Kashmir needs a firm administration to deal with terrorism and not a combination of terror-friendly parties," the party posted.

    "The best option in such a scenario is to go for fresh elections at the earliest. This assembly cannot produce a stable government."

    Political uncertainty

    "It seems the BJP wanted a long spell of governor's rule. The three rival parties, by their stake to form a grand alliance, tried to evade it," Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir-based academic, told Al Jazeera.

    Hussain said if a party or alliance claims to form the government, it must be given a chance to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.

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    "There has always been political uncertainty in Kashmir, but the current situation is different because of the adverse security situation," he said.

    The local residents, however, alleged the BJP wants to create a "split in Kashmir".

    "To us, it does not matter who rules the state, because things hardly change for people. It is ultimately ruled by New Delhi, the local government is always insignificant in big matters," said 45-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad.

    "But the way the BJP is now behaving, they are brazen in their hostility towards Kashmir," he said.

    Meanwhile, the situation in the disputed territory continues to remain violent. 

    For the past two years, the region has witnessed a spike in gun battles between the security forces and the rebels, who either want freedom or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.

    New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sheltering anti-India rebels, a charge repeatedly denied by Islamabad.

    Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of Kashmir territory and have fought two of their three wars over it.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News