Omar Abdullah Thursday asked Ram Madhav to apologise or prove his allegation that the National Conference boycotted the local polls in Jammu and Kashmir at Pakistan's behest, to which the BJP general secretary suggested he take the remarks in his stride.
The surprise move came hours after the PDP staked claim to form a government with the backing of rival NC and the Congress, followed by another bid from the two-member People's Conference which claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.
Madhav reportedly alleged that the PDP and the NC boycotted local body polls last month because they had instructions from across the border. Fresh instructions were given to both parties from across the border to come together and form government in Jammu and Kashmir, he was quoted as saying.
Countering Madhav's allegation, Abdullah said he dared the BJP's pointsman for the state to prove his allegation.
"You have RAW, NIA & IB at your command (CBI too is your parrot) so have the guts to place evidence in the public domain. Either prove this or be man enough to apologise. Don't practice shoot & scoot politics," Abdullah tweeted.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister's remarks prompted a response from Madhav, who said he was not questioning Abdullah's patriotism.
"Just take it in your stride @OmarAbdullah Not questioning your patriotism at all. But d sudden love between NC n PDP n d hurry to form government leads to many suspicions n political comments. Not to offend u," Madhav tweeted and added an emoji with a toothy smile.
Abdullah did not seem amused.
"No, misplaced attempts at humour won't work. You HAVE claimed my party has been acting at the behest of Pakistan. I dare you to prove it! Place the evidence of your allegation of NC boycott of ULB polls at Pak behest in public domain," he tweeted.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar later in the day, the NC leader repeated his demand for an apology from Madhav.
"You cannot undermine the sacrifices made by National Conference workers in protecting the sovereignty of this country. He must apologise," he said.