Mufti dies, Mehbooba to be new J&K CM

Mufti dies, Mehbooba to be new J&K CM

Mufti dies, Mehbooba to be new J&K CM

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minster Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who died at AIIMS in New Delhi on Thursday morning, was laid to rest with full state honours at his native town in Anantnag district of South Kashmir in the evening.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), within a few hours of 79-year-old Sayeed's death, decided to elevate its president and the late leader’s daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, as the next CM of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources told Deccan Herald that senior PDP leaders Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Altaf Bukhari handed over a letter of support to J&K Governor N N Vohra at Raj Bhavan backing the Anantnag MP as the next CM.

The PDP and the BJP, alliance partner in the state, are understood to have decided on the nomination of Mehbooba as the next chief minister. Sources said initially the oath-taking ceremony was scheduled at Raj Bhavan here on Thursday evening. However, they said Mehbooba said she couldn’t leave till the last rites of her father were carried out.

The ceremony, sources said, is likely to be held at SKICC here on Friday.

With the BJP giving clear signals for Mehbooba’s elevation, a mother of two daughters, is all set to become the first woman chief minister of the state.

In Delhi, BJP vice president and its Jammu and Kashmir in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna told reporters that it is for PDP to decide who will be their leader, when asked about his party’s stand on the matter.

“The BJP will not interfere as it is PDP’s internal affair. However, I think Mehboobaji is the right candidate for the post,” senior BJP leader and the state’s Health Minister Senior BJP leader Lal Singh told reporters here.

Mehbooba had taken a backseat after the PDP-BJP alliance came to power in March 2015 but started making public appearances after reports of Mufti’s ill health surfaced.

Earlier, the body of Mufti was taken to Srinagar in a special Indian Air Force plane. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh paid tributes to the departed soul at Palam technical area in New Delhi. The funeral was held at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here.

The funeral prayers were led by senior minister Naeem Akhtar. Former chief ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah and Mufti’s son Tassaduq carried Sayeed’s coffin on their shoulders before it was laid to rest, reports said.

After the funeral prayers, the coffin, draped in Tricolour and the red and white flag of J&K, was taken to his ancestral home town Bijbehara.

Another funeral prayer was held there at Dara Shikoh Garden. Close relatives and senior PDP leaders were among those who had a final glimpse of Mufti’s body before he was buried in the Dara Shikoh Bagh. The Jammu and Kashmir government has declared seven-day mourning as a mark of respect to Sayeed.

Mufti, who was admitted to AIIMS on December 24 with complaints of neck pain and fever, was diagnosed with sepsis, decreased blood count and pneumonia. He had remained in the ICU since then. He is the second chief minister of J&K to die in office after National Conference founder Sheikh Abdullah.