The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM punctures Governor rule trial balloon

New Delhi, Oct. 14: As uncertainty lingered over the shape of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is of the firm view that “under no circumstance” should the imposition of Governor’s rule even be contemplated, sources said.

Vajpayee, the sources in the government said, was given to understand after his return last night that “certain sections” in the National Conference — which emerged as the single-largest party with a vastly reduced mandate — suggested that the state be brought under Governor’s rule after placing the Assembly in suspended animation. The Centre had taken a similar step in Uttar Pradesh until Mayavati and the BJP cobbled together an alliance.

But Vajpayee rejected the suggestion. “The Prime Minister is of the view that an elected government should be put in place, after which the rest, like restarting the peace process, can follow,” the sources said.

The “advocates” of Governor’s rule pushed their case by proposing that this scenario would “best” suit the Delhi dispensation in its endeavour to pursue the dialogue process. An “unfriendly” government in the state might impair the Centre’s efforts, they suggested.

But the Prime Minister’s response was a “no”. “His consistent stand was that the government would first talk to the newly elected representatives. So, where is the question of overruling the MLAs and starting a dialogue with the others'” the sources asked.

Vajpayee felt that the mere insinuation of Governor’s rule would “subvert” the popular mandate. “The Jammu and Kashmir polls have been showcased as a major achievement of the NDA government despite the fact that the BJP itself was routed in Jammu. We do not wish to detract from this perception,” the sources said.

Vajpayee, the sources maintained, was more or less sure that the Congress-PDP combine would make it despite the initial glitches. “Just the lack of a few numbers, six or seven, should not be made an excuse for overturning the mandate,” the sources said.

The view reflected the Prime Minister’s disapproval of the National Conference’s attempt to fish in troubled waters by getting an Independent or two into its fold to bolster its numbers and create an impression that it was on the road to staking claim to power.

Government sources said that in the run-up to the Assembly elections, too, there was a demand that the state should be placed under the Governor to ensure “free and fair” elections.

Ironically, the National Conference, then in the saddle, raised a hue and cry, saying that if this was made a precedent, it should be applied to all states going to polls.

The party had also said that it would amount to a vote of no-confidence by the Centre against one of its key allies. Vajpayee then went along with the National Conference.

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