Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Elections are over, and yet the state remains in limbo over the Government formation. Now that everybody’s eyes are fixed on PDP (People’s Democratic Party), a regional party who won 28 seats, three more than the National Party, BJP, here we bring the focus on the ‘woman of the moment’, PDP’s President – Mehbooba Mufti.
Mehbooba Mufti is a Dominant Face of Kashmir Politics from the Past 15 Years
Ms. Mufti is one of the most recognized politicians from the Kashmir valley in India. Though People’s Democratic Party was presided by her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the credit for the party’s success in the state is highly given to Mehbooba, (the then Vice President) for her sheer dedication and commitment in building the party from scratch. She not only changed the political discourse by challenging the dominant Abdullahs but also sustained the threats in the storm-tossed state of Kashmir stumbling under separatist insurgency from the late 80s.
Ms. Mufti Entered Politics By Accident – The Start of Her Political Journey
Mohammed Mufti Sayeed had left the Congress party in 1987 to join VP Singh’s party. Two years later, Sayeed became the first Muslim Home Minister of India. However, he rejoined the Congress in 1996 under PV Narsimha Rao. The same year when the Government of India decided to have Assembly Elections in the Valley. During that time, nobody was ready to stand the elections under the banner of a national party.
So, the Senior Mufti convinced his wife, Gulshan Ara and his elder daughter Mehbooba Mufti (a Law Graduate) to stand for the elections from Pehalgam and Bijbehara constituency respectively. Though Mufti’s immediate choice was his son Tassaduq Hussain but since he was underage that time, he couldn’t qualify. Tassaduq is a well-known cinematographer in Bollywood today. He worked with Vishal Bharadwaj for Kaminey and Omkara.
Mufti’s wife lost the seat, but Mehbooba won the elections. And this is how Mehbooba entered Politics only to help her father. After entering Politics, she realized that this the right place to help the lives of the people in Kashmir. The same year , Mehbooba was also selected as the leader of the opposition. Farooq Abdullah led NC government was ruling the Jammu & Kashmir state then.
She Is Known For Strucking a Right Chord Between Indian Army and the Militants
Nobody knew the soft-spoken Mehbooba until she filed her nomination papers, and after that there was/is hardly anybody who doesn’t know her. Mehbooba played a very significant role during the peak of militancy in Kashmir. Back then, Indian army was accused of violating human rights. Mehbooba, though, is credited for strucking a right chord by visiting the family members of the deceased militants. Besides, she was often seen weeping with the grieving ladies in worst affected villages, which helped her to make a place in the “hearts” of the Kashmiri people.
Daddy’s Girl Mehbooba and the Kidnapping of her Sister in 1989 that Dented Sayeed’s Image
Everybody calls Mehbooba “Daddy’s girl” in Kashmir. However, it was her sister Rubaiya (a medical student at Lal Ded Memorial Women’s Hospital), who became a household name in the country when the Kashmiri militants of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front kidnapped her while she was travelling in a local mini bus in 1989.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was just 5 days old as the Indian Home Minister, and Mufti’s third daughter Rubaiya (then 23) was captured for no fault of hers. The kidnappers had a simple demand – Release five jailed militants in exchange for Mufti’s daughter. The Indian government of VP Singh obliged the Kashmiri militant’s demand, and Mehbooba’s younger sister was released.
However, the incident destroyed Mufti’s image and had a lasting impression on Kashmir politics. In an interview with Telegraph India Mehbooba quoted defensively – “How was it possible for any father to sit quietly while his daughter got abducted,” What is “unfortunate”, she adds, is that no one mentioned the austere lifestyle of the then home minister, whose daughter travelled by bus.
A Political Person – She doesn’t have much of a Personal Life
While Rubaiya is married and is practicing in Chennai, Mehbooba is a divorcee with two girls Iltija and Irtiqa. Her world revolves around her two daughters – Iltija who works in London at the Indian High and Irtiqa, who is (highly influenced by her uncle Tussadaq) a screenwriter after studying screenwriting in New York. Mehbooba herself studied Literature at Government School of Women in Jammu and has a LLB degree from Kashmir University. Mehbooba claims that she has no interest in name, fame or the CM chair. All she wants in progress, peace and calm in the Valley.
A Detractor, She Changed the Political Sphere of Kashmir – Her Political Accomplishments
3 years later (1999) after joining Congress, both Mehbooba and her father quit Congress to form their own party – PDP. In 2002, she won the assembly election from the Pahalgam constituency, the same year when PDP formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir with Congress party. Mr Sayeed became the CM of 3 years, to allow Congress to take over the post of CM. In 2004, she was elected to the 14th Lok Sabha.
In the year 2009, Mehbooba didn’t participate in elections but sat in opposition as PDP’s president when Congress decided to form a coalition with their rival party National Conference (NC), led by Abdullah Jr.This year too, Mehbooba’s party won 3 out of 6 seats in the Lok Sabha Elections. Out of the three seats, the Anantnag-Pulwama seat was won by her. Ms. Mufti won by a margin of 44,735 votes after defeating NC’s Mirza Mehboob Beg. Mirza got 97,502 votes while Mehbooba got 1,42,237 votes.
Mehbooba was one of the first in the state to draw the Prime Minister’s attention towards the mishandling of the post-flood condition. She had demanded Rs 44000 crore for the rehabilitation measures from the Centre.
With her Dedication, She Brought PDP Wave once again This Year
Favoritism, Unemployment, and corruption led by the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir are some of the major issues raised by Mehbooba Mufti and her party in the J&K assembly elections. All these pro-people matters drawn by her gained her support from the people in Kashmir. Campaigning from the front from 8 am to 9 pm, her hardwork paid off when the party won the largest number of seat. However, they are short of 16 members to reach the magical figure of 44.
Mehbooba Mufti has hinted an alliance with BJP by invoking former Prime Minister and BJP chief Atal Bihari Vajpayee, According to the sources,the deal is on between the two parties where BJP is willing to concede PDP’s demand of giving the Chief Ministerial position to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for the full term. i.e. 6 years.Though there are reservations amongst the BJP MLAs as they play second fiddle to Mufti’s PDP, it is said if the alliance is formalized, BJP’s Nirmal Singh will become the Deputy CM.
Only a matter of few days, and we shall know who plays a second fiddle to whom – Whether PDP rules over BJP or whether they become the Next Shiv Sena.
Or will the 55-year-old Mehbooba Mufti become a hostage under BJP’s rule just like her sister Rubaiya Sayeed who was kidnapped by the Kashmiri militants in 1989.
By: Deepti Verma