Political nepotism rife in Kashmir: After Mehbooba's 're-election' as PDP president, her brother set to be inducted into state ministry

Srinagar: Political nepotism is rife in Kashmir. Recently, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti got herself re-elected as president of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) for a sixth consecutive term. She is now also likely to induct her brother, Tasaduq Mufti, as a minister in the government.

PDP sources say that the party is likely to go for a cabinet reshuffle to induct Tasaduq as a minister. The decision comes days after Mehbooba's re-election as party president, in what many see as sham elections. On 3 December, Mehbooba nominated her uncle, Sartaj Madni, as party vice-president.

The flurry of political activity in PDP came after its rival, the National Conference (NC), took decisions that strengthened the hold of former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, and his son Omar Abdullah, over the party. The NC re-elected Farooq as party president in a delegate session without following the practice of voting within the party.

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

However, in Jammu and Kashmir, it is not only the NC and PDP which have turned to pursue dynastic politics; the Congress has not been immune to this as well. Former Union minister and Congress state president, Saifuddin Soz, gave the mandate in the 2014 elections to his son, Salman Soz, on the Baramulla seat, where he lost miserably.

Congress party's Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, became the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir under a PDP-Congress coalition after his cousin, Mohammad Sharief Niaz, vacated the Assembly seat of Bhaderwah to pave way for him to get elected as an MLA. Niaz had resigned in March 2006 from the Bhaderwah seat after Azad took over as chief minister in a power-sharing deal between the Congress and PDP in which Mehbooba's father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was the chief minister for three years.

Mehbooba, however, has broken all rules of political nepotism in Jammu and Kashmir and the PDP-BJP dispensation is even posting officers on political recommendations, a senior government official said.

Mehbooba had earlier fielded Tasaduq on the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, but after the elections were deferred following the killings during the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat bypoll, he was handpicked as the coordinator of the chief minister's grievance cell. The government issued the order in May this year and Tasaduq has been chairing the meetings of officers routinely to get a grip on administration. The sudden elevation of a "political novice" like Tasaduq has even left some PDP leaders riled.

Mehbooba has also constituted a panel headed by former deputy chief minister and party MP, Muzafar Hussain Baigh, to amend the party constitution. However, member of the panel and former MLA, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said that the constitution of the party was being amended to ensure "wider participation of people in party affairs."

"We are going to have more of representation of youth and women in the party," he said. Mir, however, said that Mehbooba was elected by an electoral college that comprised party's office bearers as well as MLAs and MLCs.

"The appointment of Tasaduq as the coordinator of the chief minister's grievance cell is a grievance in itself," said an official, requesting anonymity.

Mehbooba retained the post of PDP president for the next three years. Only a day later, she nominated uncle Madni as vice-president of the party even though he had lost the 2014 Assembly elections on Devsar seat in south Kashmir despite the anti-incumbency wave against the then ruling NC-Congress dispensation. In the run-up to the Assembly elections, there were allegations that Madni as MLA had been ignoring areas which were the strongholds of his rival from Congress, Mohammad Amin Bhat.

On 28 October, the NC working committee re-elected Farooq as president in a delegate session that was largely a show of strength for the party. In the party, the post of working president is held by Omar, while Farooq's brother, Shiekh Mustafa Kamal, is party additional general secretary.

However, former minister and NC general secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said that Farooq was elected as a party president unanimously. He said that the decision of the party was also ratified by the delegate session.

Earlier, after getting elected as party president, Mehbooba had said that she would pursue a policy of "inclusiveness". Mehbooba’s late father, Mufti, was also known to promote favouritism and after retaining the post of PDP president she even acknowledged that she had emerged from the "shadow of her illustrious father".

Despite promising that she would ensure a clean administration, now even the transfers and postings of officers are done on the recommendations of PDP MLAs, state government officials said.

"There is a culture of corruption which the PDP-BJP dispensation is fiercely pushing," said a senior official in the state administration. He said that the postings of director-level officers were being recommended by the MLAs and "corruption had broken all records". "Government has violated its own rules and posted either PDP workers or relatives in the personal staff of the ministers," an official said.

NC earlier said that Farooq was re-elected at the delegate session which was held after 15 years at Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket stadium at Sonwar. In 2002, Omar was elected as the party president at a similar session and gave up the post for his father in 2006 as the party's "popularity" had nosedived. In 2012, Omar was made party working president, a position that he continues to hold.

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Updated Date: Dec 14, 2017 16:41:39 IST

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