Erdoğan, opposition’s İnce secret meeting report sparks CHP row

A claim made earlier this week that Muharrem İnce, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate in the 2018 presidential election, met privately with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has ignited a debate within the CHP with İnce accusing a fragment within party of plotting against him.

İnce on Sunday again denied the claim by Rahmi Turan, a journalist with opposition Sözcü daily, that a senior official from the CHP, who Turan later revealed as İnce, secretly met Erdoğan at the Presidential Palace in the capital Ankara on Nov. 9.

‘’All of these rumors have been created in the CHP headquarters. These are not my rivals, but a small group within the party,’’Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted İnce as saying.

Erdogan has strongly rejected the claims of a secret meeting between him and a senior CHP official. However, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu confirmed it.

''This does not end here. The CHP cannot continue (on its path) without solving this issue,’’ the former CHP presidential candidate added.

İnce said the conspiracy against him, unless unpacked, would damage the CHP’s political journey. 

İnce also said the CHP could not get away with simply claiming the report to be part of a government plot against the main opposition party. 

Habertürk columnist Nagehan Alçı on Sunday said there was “a very ugly and insiduous plot’’ against İnce.  

“As of this moment, the CHP headquarters are under implication. An intra-party commission should be established. Light must be shed on the source of this conspiracy,’’ Alçı wrote.

Other leading members of Turkey’s main opposition party have also released statements regarding the report of İnce’s alleged private meeting with Turkey’s strongman. 

CHP Spokesperson Faik Öztrak took to Twitter to call on the CHP to remain calm in the face of provocations.

''The effort by the Presidential Palace to change the real agenda of our nation through this operation will not bear results,’’ Öztrak wrote.  

Meanwhile, Talat Atilla, the chairman of the board of Turk Time news site who has been identified the source of the report, took to Twitter on Sunday, saying he expected CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu to comment on the matter or else he would release a new statement.

“Now it is the turn of Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP source which confirmed the report (on the meeting), to speak,’’ Atilla had said in his column in Turk Time on Saturday.