The decks are being cleared for a change of guard in J&K as chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed continues to be critically ill.
Mehbooba Mufti is the PDP’s unanimous choice to replace her father as CM, though the party has refused to engage in speculation over timing .“Right now, the party is focusing on Mufti sahab’s recovery. It is a difficult time,” said one leader.
If the transition takes place, Mehbooba, 56 will be the state’s first woman chief minister.
Senior party leaders told HT that no date has been finalised for announcing Mehbooba’s elevation. “Right now, the party is focusing on Mufti sahab’s recovery. This is a very difficult time for the party and Mehbooba,” a senior PDP leader said. Sources in the PDP had earlier indicated that Mehbooba is unlikely to take charge while her father is in hospital.
Sources in the BJP, the PDP’s coalition partner in the state, said that there have been preliminary discussions on the matter to ensure a smooth transition at the top. The BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS have indicated that they will not oppose the elevation of Mehbooba as the chief minister and the decision will not affect the alliance in the State.
On Wednesday senior PDP leaders, several cabinet ministers including the CM’s close aide Nayeem Akhtar, senior bureaucrats and police officials called on Mufti. A senior PDP leader however, told HT that reports of Mufti being critical are “untrue”.
“Senior PDP leaders have been concerned about the CM’s health and have been calling on him; senior bureaucrats like the chief secretary and the director general of police were in Delhi for meetings with the Centre and came to enquire about the CM’s health. He is now stable and the party has been organising special prayers for his recovery,” a PDP leader said.