Media Reactions on J&K's New Chief Minister

Md. Sadiq
5 April 2016

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People's Democratic Party, took the oath as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday 4 April 2016, thereby ending 11 weeks of political uncertainty. Twenty three ministers were sworn in alongside Ms. Mufti.

J&K Media:

Kashmir Observer: "Mehbooba's takeover as the J&K Chief Minister doesn't represent anything radically different from the past. What started as a courageous demand for the rights of the people has ended in a tame surrender. The party which made legitimate demands has gained nothing and the one which unjustifiably refused to give in to them had the last laugh. As Mehbooba finally forms the government, people will certainly like to verify what was it that eventually persuaded her to resume alliance with BJP. And it will grievously hurt her political standing if her government fails to perform and it turns out that none of her demands have been met."

Greater Kashmir: "Looking back on the ten months rule during the first inning of the PDP-BJP, the government was caught up in the inherent political and ideological contradictions between the alliance partners. Many of these avoidable controversies were whipped up by either of the coalition partners to strengthen their political constituencies. Beset with inertia, the government could not take even a baby step towards implementing the much trumpeted 'agenda of alliance'… Now when the new government is in office, instead of embroiling itself unnecessary in political contradictions between the two parties, it should endeavour to see the agenda of development as contained in the CMP implemented; in letter and spirit."

Rising Kashmir: "A new perception regarding state's administration has come to fore - the perception that officialdom listens more to Governor than elected leaders who are also political executives. Mehbooba's first task happens to be a difficult one - to change that perception by making bureaucracy accountable to the same degree as has been witnessed lately. Mufti Sayeed and NN Vohra set new benchmarks as they came down hard on tainted officials. Mehbooba is expected to take it from there and make the officialdom not only answerable but help do away with the sluggishness. Mehbooba also has to work on the Agenda and manage the North Pole-South Pole meet, which has not been well received due to AoA being mired in controversies. The focus of the government has to be on governance and how Mehbooba will steer clear of the challenges will be keenly observed."

Daily Excelsior: "The unique qualification of Ms Mehbooba is that in the course of building political awareness among the people and extending her party's message and activity across the length and breadth of the State, she has travelled to each district, each tehsil, each village and almost each household in the State. Of course, she has been able to win great popularity among the people but more importantly she has seen and heard from ordinary people, from people in far off rural areas what their problems are and how relief can be brought to them. For a political leader of standing, this experience is a priceless asset for her to understand and enforce what good governance should mean."

Kashmir Life: "Mehbooba is no believer in the power of the gun. But she saw her party as a halfway house between the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference and an intransigent political establishment. "You need to give people a healing touch. We need to have a sane voice in Kashmir which can help us come out of this bloodshed," she told me in an interview in August 1999 a month after she and her father broke away from the Congress party and formed their own regional group, People's Democratic Party… But now many Kashmiris feel that Mehbooba who stole slogan from separatists, used anti-India sentiment and became a dominant force in Kashmir politics for a decade and a half now, has taken a U-turn after making her party a success."

Kashmir Reader: "Years of grandiose political posturing by the Peoples Democratic Party came to a definite end on Monday just as Mehbooba Mufti, the party's co-founder took oath as chief minister of Jammu Kashmir…. However, as some people bought into the party's 'healing touch' and the mantra of 'self-rule' the PDP started believing its own rhetoric; perhaps hoping in the process that the popular desire for Azadi could be neutralised or replaced by intellectualising failed ideas that basically sought to change nothing. But the bigger slip for the party was that it started believing New Delhi could let it. The Muftis chose to conveniently overlook the fate of Abdullahs. Now that Mehbooba has finally landed on the same plane the PDP's mainstream illusions should rest for good."

Kashmir Dispatch: "When, on April 4, Mehbooba Mufti, the Peoples Democratic Party's president, takes office as chief minister of Indian Jammu & Kashmir in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, her fall will be even more abject than was that of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed when he took oath of office as chief minister as head of this coalition on March 1, 2015. He had the fig leaf of the 'agenda of alliance' to cover his fall. She has nothing; only a record of broken pledges." (AG Noorani)

National Media

Hindustan Times: "Mehbooba crafted for herself a strategy in which 'soft separatism' lay at its core...The same Mehbooba has now walked into the chief minister's chamber with the BJP as her ally… but Mehbooba appears to have backtracked on her own assertion that she would not continue with the agenda of alliance unless Delhi announced confidence-building measures. In the fame of political one-upmanship, the BJP appears to have won over Mehbooba. Mehbooba's test lies in her ability to impress upon New Delhi the need to look at Kashmir through a political, not nationalistic prism. The first woman chief minister will have to work overtime to bring political and economic dividends to her people." (Harinder Baweja)

The Asian Age: "Ms Mufti perhaps had to prove that she was leading a spirited and principled campaign against New Delhi. For, a section of the Kashmiri Separatist constituency had undoubtedly sided with the PDP in the last state assembly polls. The joint aim at that time was to ensure the BJP's rout in the Valley and to prevent it from getting a simple majority in the legislative assembly...Some fundamental facts have not changed: neither the PDP nor the BJP have been able to satisfy their respective support base and have failed to bridge the regional divide that had brought them to power.Cynics believe if polls were to be held in the state today, both parties would stand defeated. It is this realisation perhaps that has forced the two to bury their differences and get together to rule for another five years. Expediency clearly has once again won the day." (Indranil Banerjie)