J&K: Ram Madhav, Omar spar over ‘suspended animation’, possible defections

A tough anti-defection law in J&K, tougher than the national law, has not deterred MLAs from defecting and cross-voting in the past. It is unlikely to deter them now

Photo courtesy: social media 
Photo courtesy: social media

Ashutosh Sharma

BJP’s pointsman for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav evaded a question on Thursday, June 21 on why the J&K Assembly has been kept in suspended animation. Asked for his comment on former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah’s demand to dissolve the House and hold an early election, Ram Madhav told ANI: “Why is he (Omar Abdullah) so scared? I'm sure his partymen are loyal to him. There is no question of horse-trading from our side. We've seen what kind of horse-trading happened in J&K under his party, nobody should forget history.”

Abdullah was quick to react. “Then why not dissolve the assembly? If @rammadhavbjp is true to his word that there is no question of horse trading and clearly no new alliances are being formed, then the assembly should be dissolved. Keeping it suspended has encouraged dalals.”

“I don't think a new govt will be formed anytime soon. Uncertainties are there, but we are working on something and people will get to know about it,” former Deputy Chief Minister in the state government BJP’s Kavinder Gupta was quoted as saying by ANI on Wednesday, June 20.

Sharply reacting to the statement, Abdullah called for an early election. In another tweet he asked the BJP leader: “What do you mean “we are working on something”? The only “something” would be to break other parties & make up the numbers to form a BJP Govt. Has the former DCM inadvertently spilled the beans?”

Earlier, J&K Congress leader Salman Soz. in response to apprehensions that a faction in the PDP may join BJP, tweeted that Jammu and Kashmir had a tough anti-defection law.

Unlike other states where defections are common in the wake of hung assemblies, party-hopping can’t be an option in Jammu and Kashmir. The state that enjoys special constitutional status in the country has its own anti-defection law—which is different from the national law.

According to the national law, if less than one-third of the total elected representatives of a party defect or defy party whip at a time, they are disqualified. But the J&K law is more stringent, according to constitutional experts. It states that even if all the MLAs of a particular party defy the party whip, they are liable to be disqualified.

On a query that the Speaker in his discretion may not disqualify the members, Soz replied that “The speaker belongs to the BJP. There was a case of seven BJP MLAs cross voting but the then Speaker (belonging to NC) withholding disqualification. All this may end up at the Supreme Court.”

BJP MLA Nirmal Singh is the current Speaker of the J&K Assembly.

BJP had invoked the anti-defection law in the previous assembly, seeking disqualification of its seven MLAs who had voted against their party candidate in the Legislative Council elections in April 2011. But the seven BJP rebels continued to remain MLAs as successive Assembly speakers—first Mohammad Akbar Lone and then Mubarak Gul—did not give their ruling on the matter till the last session of the Assembly in August 2014.

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