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FEBRUARY 2016 ISSUE


Will She, Will She Not
All eyes are on Mehbooba Mufti as she takes her time to form the government in J&K
 


Srinagar: The death of former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has created a void in Jammu and Kashmir politics. His daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, is yet to come to terms with the loss of her father and mentor.

Mehbooba Mufti mourning the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Mehbooba, president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — a regional party launched by her father in 1999 — is yet to take decision on the formation of government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last year, her father took two months to form the government with BJP and justified it by saying that he wished to reconnect the religiously divergent regions of the state.

Party senior leader and close aide of Sayeed, Naeem Akhtar, called his decision ‘bold and unpopular’. At the time of forging alliance with the BJP, Sayeed ignored the popular opinion that by joining hands with the BJP, Kashmir would be opened up to the RSS. He went the extra mile by praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and terming him “not at all communal” which was taken here with a pinch of salt.

Sayeed was a man of perseverance and a great survivor. He had an astute political sense honed by decades of experience that had stood him in good stead in crafting a delicate alliance with the BJP in a Muslim majority state.

Now, after the death of her father, Mehbooba is in a tight spot regarding the alliance with the BJP. She is in a fix whether to take oath as the first woman Chief Minister of the state, or end the partnership. She is yet to open her pack of cards even as she has been authorised by her party to take any decision on government formation.

Although the PDP gave clear indications of continuing the alliance with the BJP, Mehbooba has not made any move towards it. Akhtar has said that the party has no preconditions for government formation but they want that the BJP adhere “in good faith” to the Agenda of Alliance drafted by the PDP-BJP alliance before Sayeed became the chief minister. The party also praised Prime Minister Modi for his peace initiative with Pakistan, thereby giving broad hints of not breaking the alliance with its partner.

Mehbooba is taking time about her party’s alliance with the BJP as she is concerned about her image, the party’s ideology and the impact of the alliance on the PDP’s future. She also wants to retain the power within her family and has introduced her shy cinematographer brother, Tassaduk Hussain Mufti, into politics. She wants to put more responsibility on her brother’s shoulders so that reins of the party remain with the Mufti family.

Mehbooba’s major worry is that her party’s alliance with the BJP has not gone down well with the party workers. This was indicated by a low turnout at Sayeed’s funeral and prayer ceremonies that followed.

At the time of the formation of alliance with the BJP, Sayeed had assured the people of Kashmir that the coalition would deliver its promises, listed out in a document called ‘the Agenda of Alliance’. However, there was not much forward movement on this during the 10 months of the PDP-BJP rule.

 
 
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