The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Governor gives more time to strike deal

Oct. 16: The Jammu and Kashmir Governor has extended by four days a deadline for the formation of government as the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) struggled to break a deadlock on who should lead a coalition.

The six-year term of the Assembly expires tomorrow midnight and, in normal course, the new government should have been in place by Thursday evening or the state would have come under Governor’s rule.

But Governor G.C. Saxena has issued a statement setting 5 pm on October 21 as the new deadline. The extension followed a request by Congress Legislature Party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and is in line with the feeling in the Union government that Central rule would negate much of the gains of what many consider as the first free and fair elections in the state in decades.

The Governor has requested the leaders of the Congress, the PDP and the National Conference to “positively” clarify before the new deadline if their party can form a stable government and win a vote of confidence in the Assembly.

The Governor’s statement said that “any of the leaders of these political parties making such a claim would need to bring along the necessary evidence in their support”.

Congress leaders in Delhi said the new deadline has given them time to convince the PDP that it should support Azad or risk Governor’s rule in the state. Today, Azad twice met PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is also in the race for chief minister.

But the absence of an alternative plan if the PDP refuses to blink is bothering Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her advisors. Party leaders said the sole idea of seeking more time was aimed at pressuring the PDP. “But if the PDP refuses to budge, the Governor rule would be inevitable,” a CWC member added. Sources said efforts were on to use the services of leaders like Harkishan Singh Surjeet and V.P. Singh to prevail upon Sayeed.

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