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Didn't praise Modi, fumes Mehbooba Mufti

The 'praise-Narendra Modi-come-what-may' strategy backfired for BJP's leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday. HT reports.Who said what | I didn't praise Modi: Mufti

delhi Updated: Sep 21, 2011 01:55 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times

A statement made by leader of the opposition and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in Gujarat has stirred a storm in Srinagar.

A statement to highlight Modi's secular credentials turned into a full-blown controversy, involving a wide variety of people - from PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah to minorities panel chief Wajahat Habibullah.

On the concluding day of Modi's three-day fast in Ahmedabad, Swaraj said even People's Democratic Party leader Mufti, who had always been opposed to the BJP, praised Modi at a meeting of the National Integration Council in Delhi.

Swaraj while endorsing the 'Brand Modi' recounted the incident where Mufti had called Modi 'secular and muslim friendly'.

"Mehbooba Mufti, the leader of the PDP, a party opposed to the BJP, said that a muslim friend of hers wanted to invest in Gujarat and was astonished to be quickly granted an appointment. And when he did meet Mr Modi, had a decision in half an hour."

She added, "You can accuse an Advani or a Sushma of bias when they praise Modi. But this was Mehbooba Mufti," she said.

Reacting to the statement Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock at 'being misquoted' by the leader of opposition.

"Its very unfortunate that the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha has misquoted me. Saying that I endorsed Modi's secular credentials is completely baseless," Mufti told Hindustan Times.

"I have requested government of India to release the full text of my speech and I have also asked for a copy and will release it for people to see," she added.

Mufti however refused to comment on what she had said exactly. "I cant say what I said until people know the full context and contents of the speech," she added.

On Tuesday, Swaraj who started the storm, again stood by her word.

Swaraj tweeted in the afternoon, "I correctly quoted Ms Mehbooba Mufti in Ahmedabad yesterday... It was not a private conversation... I only quoted what she spoke in the presence of over a hundred people in the afternoon session of the NIC meeting on 10th September."

Mufti's statement, however got state chief minister Omar Abdullah on a tweeting spree.

Abdullah critised Mufti for denying her remarks and sparked a war of words.

"I'm not surprised Mehbooba praised Modi, she can praise who ever she likes; I am surprised she'd deny it knowing others heard her speech," Abdullah said on the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

Mehbooba on her part reacted to the tweets in the same language.

"All of us know Mr Abdullah's tweeting habit. Had I said something like this why would he have waited 15 days for Sushma Swaraj to make such a statement and not tweeted it immediately as he was present through out the meeting. This in itself is unbelievable," Mufti hit back.

"As far as Omar's tweet goes, he should recall that he was a minister at one point in time and he did not offer to resign in protest and his father was the only Muslim leader who stood by Narendra Modi at the time when Gujarat riots took place and its his father who should have actually been quoted as he is present at iftar parties given my Modi. He praises Modi all the time," Mufti said.

Abdullah was minister of state for external affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when the riots took place.

Immediately after Mufti's statement came in a section of media Abdullah tweeted.

"Have never denied being a part of the NDA Ms Mufti but I've also said it was a mistake I regret & will never repeat nor let my party repeat."

A minute later, he tweeted again.

"At least I've had the guts to admit our mistake, why don't you have the guts to admit what everyone heard you say - your praise for Modi."

And four minutes he reminded Mufti.

"Lest I forget Ms. Mufti - the record in parliament will show how I voted on the resolution abt Gujarat riots even though I was a minister."

Later in the day National Confernce in a press statement 'lambasted' Mufti for praising Modi.

National Conference while reacting to Mehbooba Mufti's tribute to Narrendra Modi in her NIC speech said that the PDP leader has only exposed the real face of her party's political ideology.

Senior National Conference leader and Member of Parliament Sharif-ud-Din Shariq said in the statement "PDP has always indulged in double speak in a bid to hoodwink the people and her eloquent praise of Modi is only a testimony of their true colours and dubious machinations".

He said, "why should Mehbooba not praise Modi, after all Modi is responsible for the killing of thousands of people of a particular community in Gujarat and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the Union home minister was responsible for the killing of thousands of Kashmiris."

Chairman of the Commission for Minorities and a National Integration Council member Habibullah, however, told HT: "I was sitting close to her (Mehbooba). I don't recall her saying any such thing. In any case, Omar (Abdullah) had left by the time she spoke."

Union home secretary RK Singh said the proceedings of the meeting will be circulated to all members.

"We will examine it... NIC proceedings are distributed to members every time and we will do this time also."

Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also joined the fray, saying that Mufti narrated an incident in reference to somebody whose work got resolved in half an hour or so.

Who said what | I didn't praise Modi: Mufti

First Published: Sep 20, 2011 12:52 IST