A People's Democratic Party (PDP) legislator has stoked a controversy by saying that only a Muslim can become the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, a view from which his party quickly distanced itself.
"There are certain parties which are trying to forge an alliance with communal elements and want to impose Hindu chief minister here (in Kashmir). But let me make it clear that Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state and can be ruled by a Muslim chief minister only," Peerzada Mansoor, MLA from Shangus, said at a workers convention in Anantnag district in the poll-bound state on Tuesday.
The PDP legislator said installation of a Hindu chief minister will prove to be detrimental for the political resolution of Kashmir issue.
"Kashmir is a sensitive place and a conflict zone. So, if a Hindu chief minister is installed, it would have a bearing on its political landscape and other issues may crop up," he added.
The PDP, however, said it was an individual leader's response to constant posturing by the BJP and the Congress on the issue.
"Some Congress and BJP leaders have been raking up the issue of having a Hindu chief minister in the state. So this was a reaction to that.
"PDP does not believe that religion is the deciding factor while electing a chief minister. It is the merit and popularity of the candidate that decide it," party's chief spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told PTI.
He said the PDP and people of Jammu and Kashmir need no certificate for their secular credentials as they have proved it time and again.
"People of Kashmir have been electing Pandit MLAs while Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (PDP Patron) was elected from RS Pura. We are a secular state," he added.