New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The fact that Mehbooba Mufti refused to take oath as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir immmediately after the death of her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, proves that she is not poewr-hungry, a former PDP minister has said.
“Mehboobaji’s refusal to be sworn in immediately after Mufti Sahib’s death proved she is not power hungry,” senior PDP leader and former revenue minister Javaid Mustaffa Mir told IANS in an interview on the phone from Srinagar.
Mufti Sayeed’s death created a constitutional situation in the state forcing Governor N.N. Vohra to impose governor’s rule to run its administrative affairs.
After Sayeed’s death, Mehbooba Mufti was all set to become the first woman chief minister of the country’s only Muslim majority state, but the grief of her father’s death shattered the bereaved daughter. She refused to take oath immediately, even refused to talk politics as she mourned.
Asked if Mehbooba was ready to handle the pressures that come with the crown of thorns, Mir said: “She is capable enough to handle anything. I think she will not only continue in late Mufti Sahab’s footsteps but add laurels to the deceased leader’s legacy. But she has the opportunity to improve upon what Mufti Sahib did.”
The former minister and legislator from central Kashmir’s Chadoora constituency also threw some light on the PDP president’s work in the party and her stature as a leader.
“Mehbooba is not an amateur by any means, she is an experienced leader who has worked hard with her father to serve the people of the state.
“She will not only run the party well, but will provide good governance to the people of the state. Even before Mufti Sahab’s demise, she took various measures to ensure a government committed towards the betterment of people and aimed towards development.
“She can become an even better chief minister than her father,” he asserted.
Mir disclosed Sayeed always saw her as his successor, not because she was his daughter, but due to her contribution on the ground.
“Late Mufti Sahib always said ‘She is mature enough to handle responsibilities. It is a democracy. She works more than I do in addressing people’s problems on the ground’, he always saw her as a leader”, the former minister said.
“Mehbooba Mufti was a great emotional support to her father even when he meant the world to her, his death has devastated her,” he added.
Everyone in the People’s Democratic Party, from lower-rung party workers to MLAs, wanted Mehbooba Mufti to take over as chief minister of the state immediately after her father’s demise in New Delhi’s AIIMS on January 7.
Alliance partner, BJP has also committed unconditional support to for Mehbooba Mufti for heading the coalition.
During a five-hour long party meeting held in Srinagar on Sunday, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said the coalition will continue in Jammu and Kashmir, however, there is no deadline on government formation, asserting that the final call will be taken later by Mehbooba Mufti.
“The entire party is behind Mehboobaji and will backup whatever she decides,” Mir asserted.
On Mufti Sayeed’s leadership and the future goals of a PDP-led Government, Mir said: “Mufti Sayeed was not only a visionary leader for Jammu and Kashmir, he was also a political asset for the entire nation. It was his leadership and statesmanship that paved the way for an Indo-Pak dialogue. His mission was to bring peace and prosperity to the state,” the legislator said.
“Our endeavor would be to respond to and mitigate the complex problems faced by the people, including the decades-long political uncertainty, development deficit, unfulfilled aspirations, mounting unemployment, corruption, nepotism and favoritism,” Mir said.
“However, the state needs the cooperation of the centre in changing the ground situation in J&K”. he added.
Sayeed was the third J&K chief minister to die in office, but a delay in the announcement of the successor has been unprecedented.
When Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq died in a Chandigarh hospital on December 12, 1971, the transfer of power took place the same day and Mir Qasim succeeded him.
National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was succeeded by his son, Farooq Abdullah, even before the legendary Kashmiri leader was laid to rest on September 8, 1982.
(Shamshad Ali can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)