BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav on Thursday sought to find a Pakistan link in the decision of PDP and National Conference to join hands to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir, inviting a sharp response from Omar Abdullah to prove it or apologise.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti too took exception to Madhav's remarks, saying both PDP and NC had been allies of BJP at some point but it was “strange that our credentials weren't questioned then”.
Abdullah took to Twitter soon after Madhav's allegation and asked to prove it or "be man enough to apologise". Madhav then sought to lighten it suggesting they were just "political comments".
Reacting to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik's decision to dissolve the Assembly, Madhav said PDP and NC were the parties, which boycotted the local body elections last month on the "instructions from across the border".
"Probably, they had fresh instructions from across the border to come together and form the government. BJP and other parties have managed to do well in local body polls. What they did prompted the Governor to look into the whole issue and take a decision," Madhav said.
Soon after, Abdullah took to Twitter daring Madhav to prove the allegation. "You have RAW, NIA and IB at your command (CBI too is your parrot). So have the guts to place evidence in the public domain. Either prove this or be man enough to apologise. Don’t practice shoot and scoot politics," he said.
To this Madhav responded, "just take it in your stride, Omar Abdullah. Not questioning your patriotism at all. But the sudden love between NC and PDP and the hurry to form government leads to many suspicions and political comments. Not to offend you."
Abdullah was not amused, "no, misplaced attempts at humour won't work. You have claimed my party has been acting at the behest of Pakistan. I dare you to prove it! Place the evidence of your allegation of NC boycott of ULB polls at Pakistan's behest in the public domain. It's an open challenge to you and your government."
"No, misplaced attempts at humour won’t work. You HAVE claimed my party has been acting at the behest of Pakistan. I dare you to prove it! Place the evidence of your allegation of NC boycott of ULB polls at Pak behest in public domain," he tweeted.
In her response, Mufti said, she was "shocked to see baseless allegations" against mainstream parties in Kashmir. "Sad to see what the political discourse of our country has been reduced to. How does one define a party’s nationalistic credentials? Nationalistic and patriotic only if you are with the Centre and Pakistan-sponsored and anti nationalistic otherwise?" she tweeted.
"All mainstream parties in JK have taken grave risks to bridge the trust deficit that exists between people of the state vis a vis the country. Both PDP and NC have been allies of BJP at some point. Strange that our credentials weren't questioned then. But just because our MLAs had enough integrity to stand up to your failed attempts of defection, they are now anti nationalistic?," Mufti said.
She said PDP had aligned with the BJP to "change this pernicious" mindset. "Undoubtedly Pakistan has an impact on the situation in J&K. But its upto our country to change that from negative to positive and tread the path that was taken by Vajpayee-ji," she added.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar later in the day, the NC leader repeated his demand for an apology from Madhav.
"You cannot undermine the sacrifices made by National Conference workers in protecting the sovereignty of this country. He must apologise," he said.
'We unite to protect special status'
Addressing a press conference a day after the Governor dissolved the assembly, Omar Abdullah said that although supporting PDP was against the NC’s interests but the new alliance was being forged to protect the state’s special status.
He said it is for the PDP to decide whether it will take legal recourse against governor’s decision. “At the most I am not a party to it but we would provide moral support. Because the challenge is to be mounted, they are the ones who have to take it,” the NC leader added.
Abdullah demanded an investigation into Governor's claim that there were horse-trading and the use of money in the attempts towards government formation in the state.
“The governor must explain his allegation that money changed hands. Justice has not been done to us. The allegation that money was used, MLAs were bought, horse-trading was done, the governor himself has written this. This he must explain to the people of the state,” he said.