Srinagar: The historic BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir got off to a controversial start after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said credit must be given to "people from across the border", an oblique reference to Pakistan, Hurriyat and militant outfits for allowing conducive atmosphere for assembly polls.
Sayeed's remark has left the BJP uncomfortable. The party initially tried to downplay the remark but later came out with a clarification on its stand on the matter. Union Minister and senior party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said as far as the BJP t is concerned the credit for the peaceful conduct of polls in Jammu and Kashmir goes to the people of the state, the Election Commission and the security forces.
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha state president Ravinder Raina said, "The credit for the recently held elections in Jammu and Kashmir goes to the Election Commission, the Indian Army and Indian paramilitary forces. Pakistan has always caused disturbances and the Hurriyat had put up banners calling for boycotting the elections."
"If the elections have been successful, it is because of India's security agencies and the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh," he added.
Meanwhile, former separatist leader and newly inducted Jammu and Kashmir minister Sajjad Lone chose to downplay the statement.
"All the focus is going to be on development. Only one day has passed, let us focus on hope, not hopelessness," he said.
On Sunday, Sayeed took oath as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir for the second time in his political career. BJP leader Nirmal Singh also took oath as the state's deputy chief minister.
Addressing a press conference after being sworn in at a ceremony which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sayeed said, "I want to say this on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister that the we must credit the Hurriyat, militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections in the state,"
Flanked by deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh of BJP and newly inducted cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu, Sayeed said, "People from across the border allowed conducive atmosphere during elections. My humble submission is peaceful elections were not possible, if they had done something. You know how small action was needed to disturb the elections. They allowed this democratic process to go ahead. This gives us a hope."
"God forbid if they (militants) would have done something. It would not have been possible to have smooth conduct of the elections," he said.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah hit out at Sayeed's remarks and asked BJP to explain its stand.
"Pakistan, Huriyaat & Militants ALLOWED Peaceful conduct of elections" says Syeed, I guess we should be grateful to their generosity (sic).
"Dear @BJP4India Please explain role of security forces & Polling staff considering your CM just said, "Pakistan allowed elections in J&K", Omar wrote on the microblogging site twitter.
On a retweet about BJP worker in Jammu celebrating Omar wrote, "Or Just thanking Pak for JK elections."
Speaking to reporters, Sayeed, while referring to Pakistan, said, "They also have assets Hurriyat, other militants. If they had done something (during the election) such a participation of people was not possible."
Sayeed said that he felt proud that the people in the heart of Valley in Srinagar came out in large number to vote.
He voiced hope that the induction of former separatist Sajjad Gani Lone in the Ministry would open avenues for others to follow the suit. "Sajjad Gani Lone has given an opening, an avenue for others (separatists) to follow," he said.
He said peace is a pre-requisite of governance. "If Jammu and Kashmir have to be a model of growth. Like people in Gujarat say 'Good Governance'. Peace is prerequisite," he said.
Lauding the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a great statesman, Sayeed said the government will take forward his philosophy of "Insaniyat, Jamhooriat and Kashmiriyat".
"We believed that Hurriyat and separatists also have a view point. We did not keep them locked in homes," he said.
Sayeed said BJP and PDP have put together a great team to work together.
"History has given us an opportunity. Kashmir remained a problem before every Prime Minister be it Nehru, Shastri, Morarji and even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We want to change it. We want to make this alliance a turning point in trying to meet hearts and minds of the people," he said.
Sayeed said people like it or not but it was his decision to bring together "North Pole and South Pole". He said Kashmir was the only Muslim majority state which rejected Jinnah's theory and acceded to India.
"In Kashmir complete autonomy and in Jammu 'Ek Pradhan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan'. This has happened. We want to connect Kashmiri People with rest of the country, what is the purpose of connecting Kashmir with Jammu?...History has given us a chance. We have a majority in Kashmir, BJP has got 26 seats in Jammu," he said.
With PTI inputs