Leading from front remains Mehbooba’s main challenge

Leading from front remains Mehbooba’s main challengeIt is very easy to list the tasks ahead for the new Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is a wearing a crown of thorns as this is the “most difficult state to govern”.
She told the inaugural meeting of her Council of Ministers on Monday, “It is not my challenge only. It is a challenge for all of you.”
The answer is that primarily it is a challenge for her only. She is the leader and it is for her to give the direction and inspire team spirit among her ministerial team and bureaucrats to take this state out of the trouble under which it has been reeling for nearly three decades now.
She has to lead with all her political acumen and the legacy that she has inherited from her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the statecraft that she has learnt during her days as a legislator and also a Member of Parliament.
That’s why Delhi waited for three long months while she took a call on government formation. Her political capital is her people. When she won 16 Assembly seats in 2002, 21 in 2008 and 28 in 2014 for her party, she was doing something on the ground. That’s what Delhi understood. Delhi had chalked out some propositions as well as alternatives, but it knew all along that ultimately her call would matter.
At the moment, she needs to decode the vision of her father to steer the state out of the turbulent times and showcase it as a model state in the country on the firm foundations of peace, harmony and regional balance with open borders with neighbours.
If the new Chief Minister thinks that all her colleagues are going to carry the same passion in realising the vision of her father, she will have to do a rethink. She is the leader, and it is her strength that she must utilise in full. She has to lead from the front and others have to follow. It is in the mutual interest of Delhi to support the new government in all earnest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s congratulatory message to the government with the hope that the “new government of J&K should leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of the people and take J&K to new heights of progress” needs complementary action on the ground. Given the resource crunch and the misery that the state is undergoing for the past 26 years, Modi needs to walk the extra mile in the real sense of the word.
That doesn’t diminish Mehbooba’s responsibility of Mufti. She has started well by invoking the theme of team spirit among her ministerial colleagues and the state administration. “It is not my challenge only, it is a challenge for all of you,” she said during her interaction with the ministers.
For Mehbooba, the challenges are far higher than her predecessors. It is not only because she feels that if “we (PDP-BJP) don’t perform then the people will punish us, and there are alternatives available to them” but the reality is that it is not a political or electoral battle alone. It is a larger political, emotional and human trajectory that she has to traverse.
In one sense, she is conscious of the prowess of the political rivals National Conference and Congress to stage a possible comeback in the next Assembly elections. But the fact remains that state politics, and especially for her, should not be a math of seats won and lost in the elections but a strategy to “win hearts and minds of the people.”
Delhi was the real benefactor of some of her predecessors, especially from the National Conference and the Congress. Besides generating goodwill among all people of all three regions of the state, she will have to rebuild the bridges with Delhi — not only with the Government of India but also with the rest of the country. She will have to demonstrate herself as a leader who really wants to showcase “Jammu and Kashmir as a model state” across the country and beyond.
The challenges stem from the division between regions and the ever-growing army of the unemployed. The PDP should understand that despite some bickering here and there, which is common in political parties, the leader of the times is Mehbooba unless she falters in a big way. And for the BJP, this is an opportunity to show that its definition of the state will touch each and every corner of Jammu and Kashmir. Only then can this government succeed.

Related posts