India Kashmir: Fax machine fuels political crisis

Omar Abdullah (left) and Mehbooba Mufti (right) at an event in Srinagar in 2015. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Omar Abdullah (left) and Mehbooba Mufti (right) have staked a claim to form the government together

A dramatic day involving a broken fax machine and frenetic tweets ended with the dissolution of the state assembly in Indian-administered Kashmir.

An alliance of three rival parties tried to fax the governor to stake a claim to run the state on Wednesday.

When that failed they tweeted at him, but he rejected the move, saying the parties had "opposing ideologies".

India's governing party pulled out of a coalition in the state in June, and imposed governor's rule.

The latest move could prompt new elections.

Local media quoted Governor Satya Pal Malik as saying that it would be impossible to form "a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies".

He was put in charge of restive Jammu and Kashmir state when India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of an alliance with Mehbooba Mufti's regional People's Democratic Party (PDP).

The arrangement will last until a new coalition is formed or fresh elections are called.

Before the dissolution, Ms Mufti, the former chief minister, had tweeted twice at the governor on Wednesday night, saying she had been trying to fax a letter to his office.

She attached the letter, which said that her party's alliance with the national opposition Congress and regional rival National Conference (NC) provided them with the number of seats required to form the government.

Adding to the confusion, another politician, Sajjad Lone, also tweeted at the governor with his own claim that he had enough support to form the government.

He said that he too had faced a similar problem with the governor's fax machine, causing much hilarity on Twitter.

The governor has since clarified that the fax machine wasn't "an issue", adding that his stand would have been the same regardless of whether he received the fax.

There have been rumours of a coalition between PDP and the opposition Congress party for some time but what has surprised many is that the alliance now includes the NC, the main opposition party in the state.

The two regional parties - PDP and NC - have always been at loggerheads.

Indian-administered Kashmir remains a subject of bitter dispute between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the region in full and have fought two out of three wars over it. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict.

When the PDP, a pro-autonomy party formed in 1999, and the Hindu nationalist BJP allied to form the government in 2015, it was seen as a sign of hope for the region.

But the BJP pulled out of the coalition earlier this year, citing the "deteriorating security situation" in Kashmir.

Ms Mufti claimed that her party and the BJP differed on fundamental issues - she said the PDP believes in reconciliation, while the BJP insisted on following "muscular policies" which cannot bring peace to Kashmir.

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