Sajad Lone, one of the rival claimants to power in Jammu and Kashmir, today vehemently denied that there was any “horse trading” involved in his claim to majority. “Defection” he said, was not mentioned anywhere in the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and elected lawmakers were free to make up their own mind about whom they wished to support.
“Horse trading where even money has changed hands” was one of the reasons cited by Governor Satya Pal Malik for dissolving the assembly yesterday minutes after he received claims of majority from Mr Lone and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
It has also incensed the Grand Alliance, with Omar Abdullah demanding that the Governor prove his claim that money changed hands.
Mr Lone had claimed that he has the support of 26 lawmakers of the BJP and 18 others. There have been claims that most of these 18 are from Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party. People’s Conference has two lawmakers – including Mr Lone.
Ms Mufti, on the other hand, has claimed she has the support of 56 lawmakers – including 15 from Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and 12 from the Congress.
“Omar, Mufti also know that MLAs are not cattle in shackles,” Sajad Lone said. “This is 2018. This is not ’87, this is not ’96, this is not 2002. The MLAs have a right and if they collectively get together — which is permitted by the constitution — they can make their own decisions,” he added.
Accusing Mr Abdullah and Ms Mufti of practicing dynastic politics, “like the Congress and the BJP at a pan-India level” Mr Lone said the two leaders are out of touch with their own leaders.
“These aristocrats have not talked to a single MLA of theirs. Their MLAs are issuing statements against each other. The emperor and the empress saw ‘okay we could align’. Democracy has to be at the micro level,” he said.