Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed courted controversy within hours of taking oath today, saying the Hurriyat, militant outfits and “people from across the border” – construed as an oblique reference to Pakistan — allowed conducive atmosphere for assembly polls.
“I want to say on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister, that we must credit the Hurriyat, Pakistan and militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections in the state,” Mr Sayeed said at a media conference after the ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Flanked by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh of BJP and cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu, Mr Sayeed said, “God forbid if they (militants) had done something. It would not have been possible to have smooth conduct of the elections.”
Thanking the “people from across the border” too, he said, “People from across the border made the atmosphere conducive. They also have assets — Hurriyat, militants… if they had done something (during the election) such a participation of people would not have been possible. This gives us hope.”
The BJP refused to be drawn into the controversy. “The peaceful polls in Jammu and Kashmir was conducted with the support of the Election Commission and other security agencies, besides those who believe in the Indian Constitution,” said BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh told media that there is no need to “read too much into the remark”.
It drew a sharp reaction from National Conference chief Omar Abdullah, who, in a series of tweets, demanded that BJP, partner in the ruling coalition, clarify its stand.