Mehbooba Mufti prepares long-term agenda of PDP

For once ruling PDP president Mehbooba Mufti was not wearing her green abaya (traditional cloak). This Sunday it was a designer off-white coat with a matching embroidered suit and scarf when she outlined the long-term plan of her party that she, in all probability, has tasked herself to fulfil in the long term.
This was a transformed Mehbooba Mufti, who has long walked in the shadow of her father and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed – the 79-year-old veteran who wants to see his daughter in his chair through a “democratic transition”.
Mehbooba Mufti prepares long-term agenda of PDPThe father-daughter duo, in public view, has come to represent the short-term and long-term goals for the party. Mufti Sayeed’s short-term goal with a long-term legacy to be carried forward by his daughter is to install Mehbooba in his chair. The good news for him is that party legislators are all in tune with this transition, and expect it sooner than later.
Considering what Mehbooba told her partymen yesterday, it is clear that she is planning a long innings in power and the party – with a trilogy of themes – resolution, reconciliation and development. Those were spoken and later written in this order.
In one of her interviews, she told this reporter: “Daddy is the best. He must run the state. I have no immediate desire to become Chief Minister, but may be some day….” That was in December 2003. Today, she is much more mature politically. She represents, what the PDP leaders call, “a long-term vision of the party”. The ‘long term’ is a code for the hardline Kashmiri Muslim-centric politics which would enable Mehbooba Mufti to lead from the front and stonewall all such criticism that her party had compromised on its basic principles to align with the right-wing BJP to get into power.
She has embarked on a three-point formula in which the Kashmir ‘resolution’ figures prominently. It means that she will work consistently for the Kashmir issue, and that the status quo is not acceptable. It means that something more needs to be done. Surprisingly, ‘reconciliation’ speaks of building bridges with Pakistan only and Delhi is exhorted to invest more in dialogue to better the relations with the neighbouring country. It has been the perennial thesis of the PDP that dialogue alone will deliver peace and justice.
At the same time, Mehbooba has not forgotten to caution the Indian leadership. Her premonition is that there could be a possibility of fringe elements taking control of affairs with destruction at the core of their agenda. “I am sure that India’s political leadership will take a cue from the tragic events in the Middle East and work, with fresh resolve, towards fostering a new era of inclusiveness and reconciliation in the country and the region.” There is nothing left to be read between the lines.
Thirdly, comes ‘development’ which talks about the party being alive to the bread and butter issues of its constituents. With this theme in mind, she is all set to chart a new course for the party under her leadership.
Mufti Sayeed has already created a Mehbooba-centric political and administrative environment for her to ascend just one more step and step into his shoes as Chief Minister. It is a matter of time now.
There are national political dimensions too. The Bihar election results have shown that despite being partners with a Muslim-centric party in Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state in the country, the BJP could not get the Muslim votes there.
During Bihar election days, Mufti Sayeed used all platforms within and outside the state to shower praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All kinds of praises were summoned to describe Modi as “a man of vision.” “Modi is neither communal nor intolerant” —- this was Mufti’s standard line.
These invocations were politically motivated because he knows that a nod of Modi is must to get Mehbooba installed as Chief Minister. That may be a short-term goal but it is not that easy to score. Modi is mulling the pros and cons. That’s why he has kept some provisions of the Kashmir package in the fixed deposit, only to be released at the time of maturity unless there is no extension of the fixed deposit receipts. He would be watching for the next step of the PDP to see whether this short-term goal is actually aimed at repeating 2008 or there is something fruitful for the state and the country.

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