Mehbooba Mufti, 56, is scheduled to take oath as the 13th chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4 in the state’s winter capital Jammu.
Eldest of four siblings – two sisters and one brother – Mehbooba has two daughters, Illtija Iqbal and Irtiqa Iqbal.
She would be the first woman chief minister of the country’s only Muslim majority state, heading an alliance of the regional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the centrist, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Mehbooba fought her first elections from the ancestral Bijbehara (Anantnag) assembly constituency in 1996. She fought another assembly election in 2002 from the Wachi (Shopian) constituency and her first Lok Sabha election from south Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency in 2004.
She again stood for the Lok Sabha and won from the same constituency in 2014.
She has never lost an election in her 20-year political career.
She was instrumental in resurrecting her late father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s political career when he formed the PDP and decided to challenge the well-entrenched regional National Conference (NC) on its own turf.
Those close to her say despite her no-nonsense pragmatic approach to politics, Mehbooba has always maintained a strong link with the party’s ground-level workers.
“It was because of her knowledge about the ground situation that Mufti sahib would always say his daughter is more connected to the ground than him,” said a senior PDP leader.
Despite the fact that her political baptism happened by fire when separatist violence was at its peak in Jammu and Kashmir, this is going to be her first innings at governance.
The oath-taking ceremony is likely to be a low-key affair according to sources in both the PDP and the BJP.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to attend the ceremony to be held at the state Raj Bhawan here.
Mehbooba’s sisters, Rubiaya Sayeed and Mehmood Sayeed, and brother Tassaduq Hussain Mufti are also attending the function as her family members.
Top sources here said both the PDP and the BJP have decided to repeat most of the faces in the council of ministers that was headed by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed before he passed away in New Delhi on January 7. There would expectedly be some changes however the sources maintained.
Kashmir has been under governor’s rule since January 8.