Omar decides to step down as caretaker Chief Minister
Srinagar: Omar Abdullah on Thursday decided not to continue as caretaker Chief Minister, arguing that the state needed a full-time administrator to deal with the situation along the border with Pakistan.
Omar met state Governor NN Vohra in Delhi on Wednesday night soon after his return from London after a 12-day visit to his ailing parents and is understood have conveyed that he wished to be relieved of the position of caretaker Chief Minister.
He was asked to continue as caretaker Chief Minister on December 24 after his resignation in the wake of defeat of his party, National Conference (NC), in the Assembly poll on December 23. NC could manage only 15 seats. PDP emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats followed by BJP with 25 in the 87-member House.Following the hung verdict, BJP has been in touch with both NC and PDP for government formation but nothing concrete has emerged so far to break the deadlock. NC does not appear to be in favour of joining hands with BJP and PDP is struggling to convince its cadres for a tie up with the saffron party.
The new Government is required to be constituted before January 19 when the term of the current Assembly expires failing which Governor’s rule looks inevitable. Omar’s decision means such a rule may have to be imposed earlier.
The Governor, according to the sources, will now be submitting a report to the President in which he may recommend a spell of Governor’s rule to avert a Constitutional breakdown.
Omar is believed to have told Vohra that it was not possible for him to provide relief as a caretaker Chief Minister to the people along the border in Jammu where constant shelling has led to loss of houses and migration to safer places. He was not in a position to help people affected by the floods in the Valley who are facing a harsh winter.
Sources said Omar has conveyed to the Governor that nearly 10,000 people have been dislodged along the International Border and Line of Control due to escalated tension between Indian and Pakistani forces.
Omar reasoned that the state effectively did not have a government since October last week after the Model Code of Conduct came into force for the Assembly polls, the sources said.
Omar has already put the onus on his arch-rival PDP for pushing the state to a Constitutional crisis. “I don’t envy the @jkpdp having to explain the imminent imposition of central rule when they’ve had a credible offer of support from @JKNC,” Omar had tweeted on Wednesday.
The state is witnessing such a stalemate for the second time in 12 years. A similar situation had arisen when Farooq Abdullah had asked the then Governor G C Saxena to relieve him of being a caretaker Chief Minister as PDP and Congress were taking a lot of time in cobbling up numbers to form the government.
Despite intervention by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Abdullah refused to continue as the caretaker Chief Minister and the Governor’s rule had to be imposed for a fortnight from October 18, 2002 rpt 2002.