Prof Abdul Gani Bhat
Even before the alliance for government formation could be stitched, an angry BJP went on an overdrive cautioning the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for meeting the separatists. What is the controversy all about?The controversy broke out after PDP supremo Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s purported secret meeting with the former moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. The meeting raised many eyebrows as the talks beteen PDP and BJP for stitching an alliance to form the government are in the preliminary stage. Who are opposing the talks with separatists?BJP, which emerged the second largest party with 25 MLAs in the 87-member House, has strongly objected to Mufti-Bhat meeting since it was the party which called off Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level dialogue because Pakistani high commission had invited the Kashmiri separatists for talks in New Delhi. “PDP should tread cautiously on this issue. These separatists have been defeated because 70 per cent people have voted and reposed faith in democracy. PDP should also maintain distance from these people,” Ramesh Arora, BJP in-charge for Kashmir affairs, told dna. Will it cast any shadow on the talks for alliance?BJP though is objecting to the talks with separatists, it is hopeful that such issues will not impact the progress of the dialogue. “Some talks have started and this issue will not and should not impact the progress”, said a BJP leader. What is PDP saying?PDP has played down the matter saying Bhat has been a friend of Mufti for long. “I do not see any significance (of the meeting). Those who see any plot in it should understand that politics is about meeting people not keeping them away,” said Naeem Akthar, chief spokesman of PDP. Akthar noted that Mufti is one of the senior-most politicians of the country who is heading PDP which has emerged as the single-largest party in J&K. “He has been the home minister of the country. He has been the chief minister of this state. Should he quarantine himself?” Akthar asked. What is Bhat’s take on this issue?Bhat, who is also the chairman of Muslim Conference, said there is no harm in meeting anyone as agendas are not discussed individually. “Mufti has been my class fellow. We used to study together at SP College, Aligarh Muslim University and are really good friends but we belong to two different ideologies. There is no harm of talking to anyone or meeting anyone,” he said. How is the opposition reacting to this development?Omar Abdullah’s National Conference has lampooned what they claimed a sly leak about the meeting. “First invite a separatist leader, then a deliberate, sly leak to the media about the meeting. Very Mufti-esque. Poor separatist leader,” tweeted Junaid Azim Mattu, NC spokesman.