Multiple challenges await Mehbooba

Has to consolidate position within party and keep flock together

Multiple challenges await Mehbooba

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, who is set to become the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir after the demise of her father and incumbent Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, will have to face multiple challenges to govern the restive Himalayan state.

With top leadership of the PDP making a unanimous choice for 56-year-old Mehbooba and alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also lending support to her elevation to the post, the transition apparently looks to be smooth. But, on ground it won’t be so easy for her to govern the polarised state like Jammu and Kashmir. Mehbooba has to consolidate her position within her party as stalwarts and parliamentarians Muzaffar Beig and Tariq Karra, have been openly expressed their views against the PDP allying with the BJP.

Though of late Beig has toned down his dissent as indications are rife that he may be recalled to the state politics once Mehbooba take over, Karra alongwith some rebels within the party will leave no stone unturned to make her tenure as chief minister uncomfortable. In the absence of her father, the first biggest challenge for Mehbooba would be to keep her flock together.

Beef ban, flag controversy and settlement of displaced Kashmiri Pandits are some of the issues Mehbooba will have to handle with the alliance partner BJP as even during Mufti’s time the coalition had been through a rocky ride. With the re-emergence of local militants, the state faces a terrible threat of what could even be a quantum leap in violence.

Mehbooba will have to do balancing act in all these issues which won’t be an easy job.

The first few months in power will determine whether Mehbooba will be established as a major node of political power in the state for the next few decades or will be relegated as an unsuccessful politician in patriarchal Kashmiri society.

However, there are few things that could go in favour of Mehbooba once she takes over reins of power. She has over the years won the goodwill of a section of society who sees Mehbooba as a leader who could provide succour to those in distress. The soft separatism displayed by Mehbooba was the main reason for PDP’s emergence in Kashmir. She won acceptance from people after turning up among the mourners for slain militants, voicing her concern for human rights violations and for seeking a resolution of Kashmir issue.

One of the biggest assets of Mehbooba is that she able to relate to common people, especially women, who are the biggest sufferers of 26-years of conflict. Over the years, Mehbooba has matured as a politician as she seemed happy enough to run the party and strengthen it at the grassroots without hankering for top job.

It was wish of her late father to see Mehbooba as chief minister. Mufti had on November 13 last year hinted that Mehbooba could become the next chief minister as she was better connected with the people and deserves to be chief minister.

Mother of two daughters, who is separated from his husband, Mehbooba assumed an image of a fiery leader after she joined the Congress in 1996 alongwith her father. She won her first Assembly election as Congress candidate from her home segment of Bijbehara.

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