By Sheikh Qayoom
Srinagar: Will she? Won’t she? The suspense over whether Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti agrees to be sworn in as the next chief minister to head the PDP-BJP coalition government has to end sooner than later, but the stress under which her father served during 10 months is weighing heavily on the daughter’s mind.
“Mufti sahib served under stress during the last 10 months as the chief minister. He had strong shoulders to bear the burden despite a hurting sense of betrayal because the promises made to him did not come off,” a close confidante of Mufti Sayeed, who is believed to also enjoy Mehbooba‘s confidence, told Media Sources.
“The much talked about relief for which he fought still hangs in balance after his death. The family expected the prime minister to come personally and meet them during the bereavement. If Sonia Gandhi could keep politics aside and air dash to Srinagar why couldn’t the Prime Minister?
“She also feels a sort of betrayal or call it a sense of letting down because the vision of all inclusive development envisioned by the late chief minister did not move beyond promises and words,” the confidante added.
As she emerges from the deep shock of losing her father, mentor and friend, Mehbooba Mufti is slowly reconciling to the hard realities of political life.
“The feeling that people cannot be denied a democratic government is the one consideration that is likely to end the suspense over government formation.
“But, assuming that previous confidences are intact between the two parties can only be correct once these are cemented afresh,” added another source close to the Muftis.
Senior PDP leader and Lok Sabha member Muzaffar Hussain Beigh has dismissed speculation that any conditions were discussed between the PDP and the BJP for handing over the mantle of state’s governance for the remaining five-year period of the state assembly.
Media reports about a fresh set of conditions being discussed by the BJP to facilitate the elevation of Mehbooba to the top slot were strongly dismissed by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi on Monday.
“The only condition that can be agreed to by the PDP for swearing in of Mehboobaji as the next chief minister is that there would be no conditions. No fresh conditions can be set, ” a former PDP minister told Media Sources.
“The terms of alliance already agreed to with the BJP high command by Mufti sahib will and should govern the remaining period of the alliance rule,” the former minister added.
The rumour mill has been agog in the state that the Congress had offered unconditional support to Mehbooba if she decides to part ways with the BJP.
These rumours had gained credence because Mehbooba remained in deep shock over the loss of her father and refused to talk about politics to anybody, including those who came to condole her.
“She had said in plain terms that she would not discuss politics with either party leaders or others who come to condole the family.
“She did not go beyond accepting condolences and expressing gratitude to (home minister) Rajnath Singh, (toad transport and highways minister) Nitin Gadkari, (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and (former chief minister) Ghulam Nabi Azad (for calling on her)”, a source close to her said.
A press statement issued by the Congress also confirmed that none of the senior Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, had talked politics during their condolence meetings with the Mufti family.
Gadkari spoke to the media in Srinagar after he called on Mehbooba on Sunday. Gadkari said he had come to offer condolences on behalf of the central government and bereavement was not the time to discuss politics.
Governor, N.N. Vohra who imposed governor’s rule in the state on January 9 with retrospective effect, on Sunday called a meeting of top bureaucrats and administrative secretaries in winter capital Jammu.
News reports said Vohra asked the administrative secretaries not to order any transfers as governor’s rule was likely to end very soon.
In a nutshell, Mehbooba Mufti is still far from accepting the thorny crown that is the chief ministership of one of India’s most restive states.