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After Sayeed’s demise, coalition quirks to test Mehbooba’s mettle

The death of her father, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on Thursday morning catapulted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti into Jammu and Kashmir’s political centrestage amid anxiety whether she would be able to keep her flock together.

analysis Updated: Jan 08, 2016 00:25 IST
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed dies,Mufti Mohammad Sayeed dead,Mufti dies at AIIMS
J-K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with his daughter and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti during a rally in Srinagar. Party workers have thrown their weight behind Mehbooba to take over Sayeed’s mantle after his demise.(HT File Photo)

The two were vocal in their displeasure over the alliance with the BJP, though Baig recently clarified that Mehbooba is the PDP’s unanimous choice to succeed Mufti.

A senior PDP leader said Mehbooba would need to emulate her late father, who as the state Congress chief at the height of Sheikh Abdullah’s popularity, kept a check on dissent and also ensured that the party retained its foothold in the state’s political landscape.

Though coalition partner BJP too assured support, PDP workers said that Mehbooba will be required to exercise caution to prevent rifts that appeared in the early days of the government from growing.

Read | J-K CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed dead, body brought to Palam Airport

Mehbooba’s involvement in securing the release of Hurriyat leaders from house arrest ahead of the NSA talks that were later cancelled, and her statement that the Hurriyat had been consulted ahead of the BJP-PDP alliance had set the stage for confrontation.

“Our alliance is with the PDP and our vision for the state’s development is more important than the person,” said a BJP leader, underlining that the party had no objection to her elevation.

The coalition government’s early days, however, were marked by discordant notes as the BJP objected to Mufti thanking the Hurriyat, militant outfits and “people from across the border” for creating an atmosphere conducive for assembly polls and the decision to release separatist leader Masarat Alam from prison.

Other controversies followed, including the recent government order to hoist the state flag alongside the Tricolour and a ban on beef.

Read | Mufti’s demise leaves huge void in politics: PM , Prez condole Sayeed’s death

Political watchers also point out that Mehbooba will have to bridge the gap between the Centre and the State. “Mufti sahab had friends in Delhi, he did not need intermediaries,” said a source.

The oddities of coalition politics would also test her mettle.

“All eyes will be on her when issues promised by the BJP in its manifesto, such as abrogation of Article 370 or a Union territory status for Ladakh, are raised. Alternatively, she will have to deliver on promises made by the PDP like the removal of AFSPA from the state, without facing opposition from the BJP,” said a source.

Flashback | Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on intolerance, Kashmir and a secular India

Read | No threat to J-K coalition if Mehbooba becomes CM: BJP

Read | Mufti Mohammad Sayeed: Much more than Delhi’s man in Kashmir

First Published: Jan 07, 2016 11:54 IST