Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, 56, on Monday was sworn in as the 13th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and became the first women to occupy the post. She took the oath of office in Urdu in Raj Bhawan Jammu. Mehbooba, born on 22 May, 1959, is the eldest of four siblings. A single parent, she is mother of two. Ms Mufti fought her first elections from the ancestral Bijbehara Assembly constituency in 1996 in South Kashmir on Congress ticket.
Firstpost asked five women to share their views and expectations they have from the J&K first women Chief Minister.
Professor, Jammu University
It is a cause of great celebration for the women of Jammu and Kashmir that Mehbooba Mufti is set to be the first Woman Chief Minister of the state. For a state which has registered critically declining sex ration, has the record of being one of those states which has poorest literacy rate and has very poor representation of women in political decision making — it is a matter of great achievement that a woman will occupy the highest political office.
Rather than this remaining an individual achievement, this should be translated into a gender advantage. One may therefore expect that state policies henceforth are much more gender-sensitive and would aim at social, economic and political empowerment of women; that state attention is focused not only on improving the sex ratio but also on dealing with increasing crimes against women, particularly the domestic and sexual violence; that women are better represented in political offices and that principle of reservation of one-third seats is not only fully applied to the Panchayats at all the levels (more particularly to the level of Sarpanches) but the state takes the lead in reserving one-third seats for women in the state legislature.
As a person who has overcome her gender limitations and evolved as a leader in her own right, it is fair to expect that rising above her position as a leader of a regional party, she can now emerge as a tall leader of the whole of the state. One would hope that she is capable of bridging the multiple divides that haunt the coalition from within. The most crucial will be her role in handling the polarisation within the coalition partners along regional, ideological and communal lines and directing the energies of the government towards providing efficient governance.
Gazalla Noor Amin
CEO & Founder at Fasiam Agro Farms
Kashmir needs a strong women leader. Mehbooba Mufti has already made a considerable mark as a party president and now we expect her to make a mark as a Chief Minister. She was a party leader till now, but now she is the leader of everyone, notwithstanding ideologies and political affiliations.
We have aspirations beyond good administration now. First and foremost, we look forward to a corruption free government, and we hope that the example comes from her council of ministers. We look forward to wise, long-term policies and a gentle iron hand. A transparent institutionalized system, where processes move by default, needs to be created so even if people in chairs may change, the system still delivers nevertheless.
One of the good ways of doing this is to put the right people for the right job, irrespective of their "political affiliations". We have no dearth of good honest competent officers. We had no expectations from the Hon'ble Governor, yet he delivered. Now she has to set another bench mark for providing transparent governance. We are expecting her to create an atmosphere where better business and livelihood ecosystem is provided. This would mean improved policies (after proper consultation with stakeholders), better improved infrastructure, communication and an efficient speedy single window system not just on paper but in reality. We will also be waiting for a change, maybe a slow one but a sure change.
National Conference leader
We both were elected to state assembly in 1996, she from Bijbehara and I was elected from Noorbad constituency in south Kashmir. There will be a change now, after she becomes CM, in the way she has practiced politics.
Today she got the seat of chief minister because of her father while has she had earned the post of the party president. There was a time when if Mufti Sahib would make any mistake she would take a stand because she was always outside government. As party president she spoke in favour of Afzal Guru, as a Chief Ministershe can’t do that now. She used to tell people wherever she would go that the issue of Kashmir needs to be resolved because young boys were dying everyday. Can she repeat the same sentences now?
I would expect her to work for the inclusion of more women into mainstream politics. When both of us were campaigning in 1996, she for PDP and I as an NC candidate, we travelled in Para military vehicles. The only campaigning material I had at that time was NC flag. We have come a long way today. It is better for women to be in mainstream politics than it was in 1990’s. She understands that and should work for their inclusion in politics.
Writer and Journalist | Author of Waiting for Justice: Widows and Half Widows
As the stage is all set for Mehbooba Mufti to take over as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a great opportunity for her to come up to the expectations of her people. Being the Chief Minister of the state, it is her responsibility to look into the challenges faced by common people and address their basic issues. Even in the era of cyber-age, people suffer on account of safe drinking water, bad roads, poor health infrastructure and above all, injustice. Corruption, lack of accountability, unemployment and favouritism are eating the very vitals of the society and these issues are gender neutral. Also it is responsibility of Chief Minister to secure overall well-being of all people, men or women, which the Chief Minister represents. This post is above gender.
Various human rights issues too need to be looked into so that the victims are not further victimized and culprits are brought to book. Above all, right to live with dignity needs to be uphold. That is what most of us would like her to do as the first women Chief Minister of the Jammu and Kashmir.
Chairperson, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons
She too is a mother and would go to people's houses when someone would die or was killed by security forces. She could have felt our pain, she could understand the pain of losing a son, or a husband, but instead of that she never bothered about us. We are not fighting for electricity, infrastructure, or roads, we are fighting for our missing children and husbands. We have been crying for help for a decade now. We have been crying in that park for so many years for our loved ones. There are women whose husbands are missing, who can’t remarry, sons whose father are missing, mothers whose sons are missing.
I personally don’t think she would make much difference but if she wants to, let her set up a commission, which would look into the cases of disappearance. Even if they give back the bones of our children we would be satisfied. Can she do that, when we know mainstream politicians has little to offer us. Would she be able to that?