New Delhi: In a dramatic turn of events, governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday dissolved the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) assembly even as an alliance of anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) staked claim to form the government. The move, which will pave way for fresh elections, could face a legal challenge.

The governor’s move capped a day of hectic political developments that began with former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP reaching out to Malik staking claim to form the government with the support of the National Conference (NC) and Congress.

After nearly five months of political uncertainty, the three parties made a fresh attempt at government formation. In her letter to the governor, shared by Mufti on Twitter, she claimed the support of 56 MLAs of the three parties put together. But, Mufti said on Twitter, she could not get through to him by either fax or telephone and that she sent the letter by mail.

“Since I am presently in Srinagar, it would not be possible for me to call on you immediately and this is to keep you informed that we would be seeking your convenience shortly to stake the claim for forming the government in the state," she wrote in the letter.

The three parties are now expected to make the dissolution of the assembly a key political issue not just in the next assembly elections but also in the general elections next year.

In her letter to the governor, PDP’s Mufti claimed the support of 56 MLAs of the three parties put together-

The day also saw Sajjad Lone, leader of the People’s Conference (PC), staking claim to form the government with the support of BJP legislators.

The PDP, which is a former BJP ally, has 29 members in the House while the NC has 15 and the Congress has 12. The BJP is the second largest party in the assembly with 25 seats.

Interestingly, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah-led NC had offered its support to the PDP after the 2014 assembly elections. PDP had, however, declined the offer and, instead, joined hands with the BJP to form the government. In June, the alliance partners split and governor’s rule was imposed.

The coming together of arch- rivals NC and PDP, along with the Congress, is a move with national ramifications—it marks an effort not only to change the political equation at the state level, but also to forge an alliance against the BJP in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

“The leaders have agreed to form an alliance. At the leadership level the PDP, NC and Congress have agreed. What are the contours of the alliance? It has not come down to MLAs. I am an MLA and I have been told only this much," senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari told reporters in Srinagar earlier in the day.

However, a few dissenting voices had emerged earlier in the day following alliance talks. Muzaffar Baig, a founding member of the PDP and an MP, said that the coalition government, if formed, will mainly represent aspirations of Kashmiris, leaving out the Jammu region. He also indicated that he may join Lone’s PC.

The Congress has called a meeting of all senior state leaders and party functionaries in Delhi on Friday. “A meeting of party leaders from the state has been called by general secretary in-charge Ambika Soni in Delhi. We are closely watching the developments in Jammu and Kashmir and are hopeful of an outcome of our talks," a senior state Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.

The BJP alleged that it was an alliance of convenience to form a government, and is not about serving the people of the state. “NC and PDP have been opposed to each other for the longest time. Now they want to join hands to gain power. This alliance does not represent the aspirations of Jammu and Ladakh region. It is only to serve their political interests," said Hina Bhatt, a senior BJP leader based in Srinagar.

PTI contributed to this story.

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