J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina with prominent Pahari leader Mushtaq BukhariBJP media cell

The statement of BJP leader Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari generated debate amid an intense election campaign in Jammu and Kashmir as the National Conference Vice-president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stepped attack on his arch-political rival Mehbooba Mufti.

Taking a cue from Bukhari's statement in which he asked BJP workers to support Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, Omar Abdullah said that cat is out of the bag now.

"One thing is clear after Bukhari's statement that the PDP is hobnobbing with BJP to win Parliamentary elections in Kashmir Valley", Omar said.

"For the last few days, I have been watching that instead of targetting our common enemy BJP, Mehbooba Mufti was criticizing only the National Conference in every public meeting," Omar said, adding, "Now BJP's senior leader from Surankote Mushtaq Bukhari has cleared the doubt by the statement of supporting Mehbooba Mufti."

Omar Abdullah
Twitter handle of NC

"PDP is repeating the 2014 assembly elections when the party sought people's support to stop BJP but after the declaration of the results the same party stitched an alliance with the Saffron party", he recalled.

"After the A-team and the B-team, the PDP has now joined as the C-team of the BJP," Abdullah said with a reference to the Peoples' Conference of Sajad Gani Lone and Apni Party of Sayed Altaf Bukhari.

BJP leader asked Pahari-speaking people to support Mehbooba Mufti

On Monday, veteran politician and BJP leader Mushtaq Bukhari asked people to support PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting election on the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat.

While talking to a local news channel, Bukhari, a minister in the National Conference government headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, said that Pahari-speaking people would support Mehbooba Mufti. Today Mushtaq Bukhari retracted his statement and clarified that the high command would take the decision to support any party on the Anantnag-Rajouri seat.

"I am sure that Mehbooba Mufti will put pressure on the BJP to get Mushtaq Bukhari to change his statement but the cat is out of the bag now", Omar said.

Mehbooba Mufti
PDP media cell

Mehbooba steps up attack on BJP after Bukhari's statement

Landed in an embarrassing situation after Mushtaq Bukhari's statement, Mehbooba Mufti stepped up attacks on the BJP to counter NC's propaganda.

She said that in pursuit of its anti-Muslim agenda, the BJP is destroying the social fabric of the majority Hindu community itself, radicalizing and criminalizing Hindu youth for their power lust.

Mehbooba stated that attempts are being made to once again tear apart the country's communal fabric and that the slogans of the BJP crossing the 400 mark are proving hollow with each passing day.

She added that it is extremely condemnable that the BJP rakes up nonsensical issues like "Mangalsutra" and creates fear psychosis that Congress will give everything to Muslims.

Pahari leader
A delegation of Pahari leaders led by BJP leader Vibodh Gupta meets Amit ShahBJP media cell

Bukhari had joined BJP two months ago

A prominent Pahari leader of the Pir-Panchal range, Mushtaq Bukhari had BJP on February 15 this year after the Central government granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Pahari-ethnic community.

After a 40-year-old association with the National Conference, Bukhari had parted ways with the Abdullahs in February 2022 over the denial of Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari community.

Bukhari, a spiritual leader locally referred to as "Peer Sahab" by the Muslim community, has significant clout in the Pahari community in Rajouri, Poonch, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts.

A two-time former MLA from Surankote in Poonch district, Bukhari was once a close confidante of National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah.