The Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Mr. Satya Pal Malik, has emphatically defended his decision to dissolve the state assembly - after keeping it in suspended animation for months - just after two alliances staked claim to power on Wednesday evening.
'The assembly dissolution was not at the wrong point but at the right point,' the Governor said.
He said Ms. Mehbooba Mufti and Mr. Omar Abdullah, rivals who had teamed up to stake claim to power along with the Congress, had both asked him repeatedly to dissolve the assembly over the past few months.
'I was getting reports of horse-trading from both sides and the situation was very bad. The security situation here is the best at the moment, insurgency has been confined to one and a half districts, there is no pattharbazi (stone-throwing) and local body elections have been held smoothly. Creating confusion was not in the interest of the state. Nobody was in a position to say we have a majority,' Mr Malik said.
He said he hadn't taken the step earlier because there was no imminent reason to dissolve it. 'This was because no one came with a horrible proposition to form government. Democracy was working, MLAs were getting funds. But when I saw danger inherent in such adventures, then I dissolved it,' he explained.
The Governor also responded to Ms. Mufti's allegation that he didn't receive her calls and fax staking claim to power. 'Yesterday was Eid. There was no one in the Raj Bhawan to even give me food. She could have come to me the day before.'
But Mr Malik added: 'Even if I had got the fax, my decision would have been the same.' He said he had decided not to allow any government on the basis of 'defections or loose arrangements'.
Responding to his explanation of the non-functional fax machine, Mr. Abdullah shot back: 'If there was no staff, then who typed his letter dissolving the assembly? We also had Eid, there were people at our home.' He added: 'I hope the staff at Raj Bhawan pull up their socks, so the governor is not inconvenienced this way.'
Ms. Mufti had written to the Governor that her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had the support of 56 lawmakers, including 12 from the Congress and 15 from the National Conference. That placed her alliance comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 44 in the 87-member assembly. The second claimant to power was Mr. Sajad Lone, who has two lawmakers. The People's Conference leader claimed the support of the BJP's 25 legislators and 'more than 18 other lawmakers'.
The state had been under Governor's Rule since June, when the BJP ended its alliance with Ms Mufti. The Governor had kept the assembly in suspended animation instead of dissolving it, saying he didn't want lawmakers to stop receiving their constituency development funds.