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Rope Tricks

Mehbooba Mufti has to ensure that the alliance with the BJP pays well

Fayaz Bukhari

After taking three months to form coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 56-year old Mehbooba Mufti is now the first woman chief minister of the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir. Being the chief minister of the sensitive state is a tightrope walk for a woman whose political acumen and grassroots zeal has been lauded by fans and detractors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing stage with first woman CM of J&K Mehbooba Mufti

Unlike her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and the other former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba’s stakes are very high. She has been a firebrand leader who always in her career called a spade a spade. She has been vocal on issues confronting people’s security and human rights and has always identified herself with the common people.

As an opposition leader, Mehbooba squeezed the space of the Separatists after her father formed his own party People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998. She used to edge out separatist leaders in championing human rights causes in Kashmir. She used to travel to far off villages to question alleged excesses by police and security forces during their fight against the militancy. She has always been fighting for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives special powers to the armed forces operating in disturbed areas and reducing the foot prints of security forces in Kashmir.

Besides this, Mehbooba used to take up issues concerning the common masses like better roads, better healthcare, better services and used to corner the opposition concerning women, children and the deprived. When Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was chief minister in 2002-2005, she was opposition within ranks. Even her father once said: “She is the bigger opponent to my government, more than those facing me in Assembly.”

Under the guidance of her father who was seasoned politician, Mehbooba acted as a foot soldier for the party as she was always on wheels travelling to remote villages. In a short span of time, the PDP filled the political vacuum in Kashmir and the party won 16 seats in 2002 Assembly elections in the state and her father became chief minister with the help of Indian National Congress (INC). The party grew stronger and won 21 seats in 2008 Assembly elections and 28 seats in 2014 Assembly elections.

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