Will Mehbooba Mufti, president of Peoples Democratic Party, introduce Tassaduq Hussain Mufti, her young brother and the only son of late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, to politics in Jammu and Kashmir? Tassaduq, a cinematographer, has been reluctant about joining politics so far. The highlight of his professional career is Vishal Bhardwaj's much-acclaimed film Omkara.
As rumours and speculation fly thick in Srinagar's political circles, there are hints emanating from the PDP that the junior Mufti could fight his first electoral battle from the Anantnag parliamentary constituency. The seat will be vacant after Mehbooba takes over as chief minister of the state. She has refused to take oath so far, but she is expected to continue her alliance with the BJP, as going against it would somehow be dishonouring the decision taken by her father, according to observers.
On Sunday, when the core group of party meet in Srinagar for the first time — after the demise of Mufti — to discuss government formation, Tassaduq was present in the meeting.
“He is a creative genius and has been involved in many initiatives on heritage and tourism in Kashmir, but I am not sure if he is interested in politics,” Waheed Ur Rehman Para, PDP spokesperson told Firstpost. Last Friday, when the PDP president arrived at Dara Shikoh Garden in south Kashmir’s Bijbehra district, where her father is buried, she held her brother's arm tightly.
“He is the only person who has been with Mehboobaji since Mufti Sahib died, in public and inside the home. He is neither a politician, nor a party worker, and has never taken part in any political activity. But he is sharp and intelligent like his father,” a senior PDP leader, told Firstpost.
“I think she would like her brother to play some kind of role at least in the party, which is fine and should happen. Whenever she appeared in public, she looked completely broken; her eyes present the picture of her state,” another senior leader said.
Tassaduq, who shuffles between Bengaluru and Mumbai, has hardly lived in Kashmir and is presently working as a cinematographer. He has studied cinematography in the US. After his first film, Omkara, Ravi K Chandran, one of India’s best directors of photography called him one of the “most outstanding cameramen in India”.
“That is why Vishal Bharadwaj chose him for Omkara; until then, no one had heard of him,” one of his close associates, who worked with Tassaduq in Mumbai, told Firstpost.
However, for a majority of people in Kashmir, Tassaduq has no recall value. One reason for this is that despite being the only son of the former PDP patron, this young cinematographer never showed any interest in politics. Friends close to him say he is fascinated with the heritage and culture of Kashmir. In fact, he has been helping the tourism department indirectly to map heritage sites in Kashmir.
In Mufti’s family, Mehbooba has been the only visible face in politics. She has been the driving force behind the PDP emerging as a stable force in Kashmir politics. She worked for years to make true her father's dream of becoming the chief minister of the state.
But unlike Mehbooba, Tassaduq has never spoken publicly and has hardly been part of any political activities in the state. “He speaks with an accent, and is very shy,” said a friend not wishing to be named.
In August, 2006, his mother Gulshan Nazir told India Today that she was happy with whatever her son did, on being asked whether her son would be interested in joining politics. "Wherever he is, he should be happy," she said.
“During all these days since the day Mufti Sahib passed away, Mehboobaji has hardly be seen in public without Tassaduq. Imagine Mehbooba, who braved militants, needs the support of her brother these days. She always walks with her hand in his arms,” another PDP leader told Firstpost.
Till now, Mehbooba has refused to take oath, and is adamant on being given assurances by the BJP high command on the strict implementation of the Agenda of Alliance, a document governing the coalition government in the state.
For the moment, the state is under governor's rule.