National

BJP timed exit so J&K doesn’t go to polls before Lok Sabha election

NEW DELHI: The timing of BJP’s decision to pull the trigger on its alliance with PDP was determined by a desire to ensure that the J&K assembly election was not scheduled before the Lok Sabha polls due in early 2019.

With Jammu & Kashmir having a provision for governor’s rule for six months, the BJP leadership is keen to let this period run as close to the end of 2018 as possible. The calculation was that if the six months ended in December, it would be too close to the Lok Sabha elections to be scheduled ahead of the national polls. The electoral process for the Lok Sabha would begin to unroll from March onwards.

Sources conceded that governor’s rule – which is specific to J&K – could be followed by President’s rule and this would also delay the assembly election. But the conversion of governor’s rule to President’s rule would need ratification by Parliament in two months or, in a month if it is in session.

The six months of governor’s rule in Jammu & Kashmir will expire by December 19 or 20, depending on when it is imposed. By then, the winter session of Parliament is likely to have ended. So, even if it were to be followed by President’s rule, the latter would have to be ratified only in the budget session. However, had BJP pulled the plug earlier, governor’s rule would have expired while the winter session was on. With a one-month deadline to approve President’s rule when Parliament is in session, it would have required ratification in the winter session itself. The government can be expected to schedule the winter session accordingly.

The Centre does not envision much possibility of a reconfiguration within the current assembly as a possible alliance between PDP and Congress will be short of numbers. Besides, as of now, Congress has ruled out such an arrangement and National Conference has said it will not be part of government formation. Even after the hung House in 2015, there were discussions over a PDP-Congress alliance but this was found to suffer from lacking any Hindu Jammu representation besides needing a clutch of Independents.

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