Sushma Comment Sparks Slugfest Between Mehbooba, Omar

Srinagar, Sep 20 (IANS): It's an unseemly war of words caught in a tangle of denials and accusations. And at the centre are Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti, who says she never praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

It all started with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj saying in Ahmedabad Monday: "Not just the BJP supporters, even rivals like PDP's Mehbooba Mufti has praised Modi's work ethics at the recent National Integration Council (NIC) meeting. This makes us proud."

Mehbooba Mufti was quick to deny that she ever said that.

"I have been misquoted saying I praised Modi. I request the government of India to release the text of my speech so that the record is set straight," she told reporters here.

She lashed out at the BJP and also dragged in Farooq Abdullah, a union minister and the chief minister's father.

"I feel the party (BJP) is frustrated, but I would request them if they want some Muslim leader on their side to prove their secular credentials, they must approach Farooq Abdullah who has praised Modi and even said he had seen Allah in Modi's eyes."

She then turned her attention to Omar Abdullah saying: "Omar was a minister in the NDA government when Muslims were massacred in Gujarat."

Responding to the chief minister's tweets on her, she referred to his statement on his marriage breaking up and said: "Omar does thousand tweets a day and still says he continues to work hard as chief minister despite the upheaval in his personal life. He was present in the NIC meeting where I spoke, but has now tweeted about it after 15 days."

Omar Abdullah was unsparing in his criticism of his political rival.

"I'm not surprised Mehbooba praised Modi, she can praise who ever she likes; I am surprised she'd deny knowing others heard her speech," the chief minister said in his first tweet on Mehbooba praising the Gujarat chief minister.

"Why can't she just admit what she said rather than deny the whole thing. So much graceful to accept rather than call Swaraj a liar," he said in the second tweet.

In the third reaction on the microblogging site Twitter, the chief minister brought in Mehbooba Mufti's father, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and said: "At least her father had the sense not to deny calling Laloo, as home minister, to order Advani's release. He just did what Ostriches do."

The no-holds-barred war of words once again brought to surface the personal and political animosity between the Abdullahs and the Muftis, the two most powerful political families of the state.


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