Chief minister Omar Abdullah has taken on hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, accusing him of preparing the ground for his son Naeem-ul-Zafar to succeed him.
This is the first time any mainstream political leader has taken on Geelani on this count.
The chief minister’s comment came in response to a query during an exclusive interview with HT on whether Geelani is actually a game changer in Kashmir. "Geelani’s ability to recognise issue (like the Dogra certificate) is overrated," Abdullah said. "He is preparing the ground for his son to succeed him."
Once Geelani puts his plan of succession into place, there will be no shortage of game changers, he said. "But his ability to change the game depends on our messing up. It is only when we make mistakes that he is able to capitalise on them and change the game," Abdullah said.
Geelani is now being called maharaja or badshah by his supporters, Abdullah said. "In this whole Nizam-e-Mustafa that he wants to create, how can he explain his badshahat to the people? It is something for him to explain," he added.