Reacting to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's comments, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah on Monday apparently linked his release from nearly nine months of detention to the revolt by Sachin Pilot against the Congress government in Rajasthan. Taking to Twitter, Abdullah, who is also the vice president of the National Conference, said that he would be taking legal action against the Chhattisgarh chief minister for his comments made during an interview with a prominent English newspaper.
"I am fed up of the downright malicious and false allegation that what Sachin Pilot is doing is somehow linked to my or my father's release from detention earlier this year. Enough is enough. Mr @bhupeshbaghel will be hearing from my lawyers," he said.
He also tagged Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Randeep Singh Surjewala and the Congress party in his tweet.
Minutes after Abdullah's tweet, Baghel made attempts to downplay his controversial remarks and tweeted, "Please do not try to turn this tragic demise of democracy into an opportune moment @OmarAbdullah ji. The 'allegation' was only a question asked, and we will keep asking it, as will the country."
Abdullah retorted angrily, "You can send your answer to my lawyers. This is what is wrong with the @INCIndia today, you don't know your friends from your opponents. This is why you people are in the mess you are in. Your "question" was malicious and will not go uncontested."
Baghel was quoted by the newspaper saying "as far as Sachin Pilot is concerned, not that I have been tracking the Rajasthan events so closely, but it does make one curious why Omar Abdullah was released? He and Mehbooba Muftiji were booked under the same Sections of the law, while she is still languishing, he is out. Is it because Mr. Abdullah is brother-in-law of Sachin Pilot?"
Pilot is married to Omar Abdullah's sister Sara Abdullah.
Congress has accused the BJP of being behind the rebellion by Pilot which led to his removal from the post of the deputy chief minister as well as the state party chief.
The NC also issued a statement expressing "strong objection" to Baghel's statement, saying it has "maliciously suggested" that the release of Abdullah from preventive detention was somehow related to Pilot's revolt or the present political situation unravelling in Rajasthan.
"The Party unequivocally rejects such malicious, false and politically motivated statements that are used for convenient political posturing," the statement said, adding it was "false and scurrilous" and defamatory to the reputation of Abdullah as well.
The party said that it was public knowledge that Abdullah was released after he had approached the Supreme Court challenging his illegal order of detention.
"Given the indefensible nature of the illegal detention order, the same was revoked by the government during the course of the proceedings before the Supreme Court," the statement said, adding "we have taken cognizance of the libelous statement of Mr. Baghel and we are presently in the process of consulting our lawyers and shall be initiating appropriate legal action" against him.
Abdullah was taken into preventive detention during the intervening night of August 4 and 5, hours before the Centre announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcation of the state into union territories -- Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Hours before his preventive detention was to end after completing the mandatory six months, Abdullah was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act in February this year.
However, on March 24, the PSA order for his detention was revoked after his sister Sara approached the Supreme Court challenging it.
Besides Abdullah, a host of other leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including PDP leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, were taken into custody in August last year.