April 4 will be a milestone in the political history of Jammu and Kashmir as PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is sworn in as its first woman chief minister, heading a coalition government with the right-wing BJP in the country’s only Muslim-majority state.
The daughter of PDP founder and late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed will take oath of office at the Raj Bhawan in Jammu at 11am.
The 56-year-old succeeds her father as the 13th head of state.
On Saturday, governor NN Vohra invited the PDP president to form and lead the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state.
“The governor’s invitation to (Mehbooba) Mufti follows the earlier discussions with the PDP and BJP presidents regarding formation of government in the state and the subsequent communications received from her and Sat Sharma, president, J&K BJP in regard to this matter,” an official spokesman said.
Political observers expect Mehbooba to chart out a new course of governance different from her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s legacy — more in style than in substance.
They believe Mehbooba would be a more assertive chief minister on issues that resonate deeply with her core constituency — Anantnag.
“If she feels the coalition is not working, she will pull out over some very emotional issue,” says a political observer who did not want to be named.
The PDP-BJP government can expect a smooth run if the two ideologically-opposite parties can avoid controversies that dogged their first brush together with power when Sayeed headed the government for 10 months till his death on January 7.
Mehbooba is respected for her no-nonsense, pragmatic approach to politics. At the same time, the mother-of-two enjoys people’s confidence and is known for her grasp on their pulse — something many seasoned politicians do not enjoy in the militancy-affected state.
Congress has, meanwhile, decided to stay away from Mehbooba’s swearing-in ceremony. “We have decided to stay away from the ceremony as this coalition was unholy from the very beginning and they have once again forged this unholy alliance,” chief state spokesman of Congress, Ravinder Sharma, told PTI.
(With inputs from agencies)