Government Faces Backlash in Parliament Over Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's Pakistan Comment

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Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha on Monday

New Delhi: 

The government today dissociated itself from the controversial remarks of its newest ally, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, crediting Pakistan and militants for peaceful polls in the state.

"Our government and the BJP fully dissociate with the statement," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha as opposition parties shouted demands for an explanation from the government.

"The credit for conducive environment for polls in Jammu and Kashmir goes to the Election Commission, our armed forces and the people," Mr Singh added.

The home minister said he was making the statement after discussing it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Sunday, speaking to the media after his oath ceremony, Mr Sayeed had said: "I want to say on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister, that we must credit the Hurriyat, Pakistan and militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections in the state."

He added, "People from across the border made the atmosphere conducive. They also have assets -- Hurriyat, militants... if they had done something (during the election) such a participation of people would not have been possible. This gives us hope."

The opposition in Parliament questioned why PM Modi had not objected to Mr Sayeed's comment. "The prime minister must clarify," said Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge, before his party staged a walkout.
The home minister ruled out any statement by PM Modi and said there had been "no secret talk" between the prime minister and chief minister.

The BJP and Mr Sayeed's People's Democratic Party, who are ideological opposites, came together to form government after difficult negotiations to bridge differences that have divided them for decades.

"This not exactly I suppose a terrific beginning for this unnatural marriage," commented former union minister and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

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