Former Chief Minister and National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah has thrown his weight behind “united” Hurriyat, spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir. If he really means what he says then NC has almost transformed into a new separatist force: the Hurriyat(F).

A mainstream leader is swearing by separatists. “I am telling Hurriyat not to get divided. We stand with you (Hurriyat) and not against you. Be united and take this (freedom) movement forward. We are with you,” Abdullah said on December 5 addressing a rally in Srinagar. He was flanked by his son and former CM Omar Abdullah.

Though Dr Abdullah’s words were different from what he said in his past, essentially when he was in power. As the CM in 1998, he advocated against separatist camps saying “Hurriyat leaders should rot in jails.” He equally demanded “bombing” on neighboring Pakistan.

Out of power, he’s a changed man. One of his favorite statements, which he reiterated at least thrice in the recent past during his rallies in Kashmir and Chenab valleys, was that “this Kashmir belongs to India and the other Kashmir belongs to Pakistan… All that is needed for a solution to Kashmir issue is the grant of internal autonomy.”

His latest statement, however, has stretched the debate on the K-issue further. The pro-India politician aspires to follow the anti-India camp. “We are not your enemies and we are ready to follow you, so move forward,” he tells the united Hurriyat.

But then Dr Abdullah seems to be a bigger threat to Hurriyat leaders than to his mainstream rivals. What if he releases the next weekly protest calendar, otherwise issued by “united” Hurriyat?

After all Dr Abdullah knows how to steal the show. Old habits die hard. Imaginations are going wild over his pro-separatist avatar.

Remember, how he out shadowed actor Ranveer Singh on the Malhari song from Bajirao Mastani on a dias in New Delhi in February 2016? Let’s see if Dr Abdullah can bring an end to the ‘Lal Chowk Chalo’ calls through the calls of ‘Bollywood Chalo’!