Hours after accusing the PDP and National Conference (NC) of taking instructions from “across the border” in their aborted bid to form a government in J&K, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav Thursday retracted his comment following a furious backlash from the leaders of both the mainstream state parties. While NC chief Omar Abdullah dared Madhav to prove his allegation, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock at the “baseless allegations”.
The day after J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the state assembly, Madhav told ANI: “When did we ever claim that we are forming the government. We always said that we needed Governor’s Rule to continue. It was those parties which wanted to form an unethical alliance and I must tell something very interesting here. It is these very same parties, PDP and NC, which boycotted the local body elections last month because they had instructions from across the border… they probably had fresh instructions from across the border to come together, form the government, otherwise the BJP and other parties have managed to do well in local body elections. Whatever might be the reasons, what they did prompted the Governor to look into the whole issue and take this decision.”
Abdullah responded furiously on Twitter, leading to an exchange on the social media platform between both the leaders. “You have RAW, NIA & 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 & scoot politics,” Abdullah posted.
Madhav responded: “Just take it in your stride @OmarAbdullah Not questioning your patriotism at all. But d sudden love between NC n PDP n d hurry to form government leads to many suspicions n political comments. Not to offend u.”
But Abdullah refused to let go. “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. It’s an open challenge to you & your Govt,” he wrote.
I dare you @rammadhavbjp ji to prove your allegation. You have RAW, NIA & 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 & scoot politics. https://t.co/KEbOo0z6O2
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 22, 2018
Madhav then retracted his remark and challenged NC and PDP to contest the next elections together. “…Now tht u deny any external pressure I take back my comment, bt, now tht u proved it ws genuine love btw NC n PDP tht prompted a failed govt formation attempt,u shud fight nxt elections 2gether. Mind u it’s pol comnt, not personal,” he tweeted.
Abdullah also referred to Madhav’s remarks at a press conference in Srinagar. “A senior leader today raised fingers towards parties that they have acted on the directions of Pakistan. I challenge Mr Ram Madhav and his other associates. You are disrespecting the sacrifices of thousands of my colleagues… Almost 3,000 colleagues, who refused to dance at the indications of Pakistan… they died because they didn’t take instructions from across the border. More of my workers have died in these 30 years then your workers have ever died,” the NC leader said.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, too, reacted to Madhav’s remarks with a series of tweets. “Shocked to see baseless allegations against mainstream parties in JK following dictates from Pakistan levelled by @rammadhavbjp ji…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 posted.
Mufti also pointed out that 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?” Congress state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir also joined the political firestorm and asked the BJP to prove the allegations or apologise. “It is your government. All institutions are with you, the CBI, NIA, the institution of Governor, IB, RAW. You will have to prove it or you will have to apologise to the people of this nation,” Mir told reporters.
Just landed@Aizawl n saw this. Now tht u deny any external pressure I take back my comment, bt, now tht u proved it ws genuine love btw NC n PDP tht prompted a failed govt formation attempt,u shud fight nxt elections 2gether. 😂Mind u it’s pol comnt,not personal https://t.co/DsOYiwwXmo
— Ram Madhav (@rammadhavbjp) November 22, 2018
In 2015, a similar reference had led to a difference of opinion between the PDP and the BJP on the day both formed a coalition government in J&K after the December elections the year before. On March 1 that year, soon after taking oath as Chief Minister, the then PDP patron, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had said that credit must be given to “people from across” the border who “allowed a conducive atmosphere” for the polls. This was seen as a reference to Pakistan, Hurriyat and militant outfits.
Following Opposition demands in Parliament that he respond on the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in the Rajya Sabha: “If somebody makes such a statement, we can never support it. If somebody makes a statement somewhere and we are forced to respond here, things will not work.”
Madhav was a key man from BJP side in drafting the “Agenda for alliance” with PDP. Asked to rate the alliance this February, Madhav had told The Indian Express that the two parties are working in perfect tandem. Four months later, Governor’s Rule was imposed after the BJP pulled out of the alliance.
On Wednesday, the J&K Governor dissolved the assembly after the PDP, NC and Congress joined hands to announce “a grand alliance of like-minded secular parties” and staked their claim to form the government with the support of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House. Sajad Gani Lone of the two-member People’s Conference also staked claim with the support of the BJP and 18 MLAs from other parties.
(With Adil Akhzer & Bashaarat Masood in Srinagar)