Mehbooba Mufti was on Thursday elected the head of the PDP legislature party, clearing the decks for her to become the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The party has also unanimously nominated her as the leader in the state legislature, a constitutional requirement before she stakes claim to power. The PDP MLAs joined by senior party functionaries and members of its extended core group met here with Ms. Mufti in chair to discuss “threadbare’ the issues pertaining to government formation with alliance partner BJP. Ms. Mufti briefed the meeting on her latest round of talks with BJP leadership including Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in Delhi.
“You have again selected me as the leader of legislative party, I am thankful to all. Your support is my strength. Public has been backing me for last three months,” Ms Mufti said after the meet.
Mehbooba represents south Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency in the Lok Sabha. After the meeting, the way has been paved for her to become the first woman chief minister of India’s only Muslim majority state.
Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government after Mehbooba’s father and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed died in a Delhi hospital.
Hours before the crucial meeting, Mehbooba visited her father’s grave for prayers. Accompanied by one of her two daughters, the PDP chief prayed there for a while before heading to Srinagar to attend the meeting with her legislators.
She would fly to winter capital Jammu on Friday where she is scheduled to meet Governor, N.N. Vohra, to stake claim to form new government with BJP. Mr. Vohra has also invited BJP’s State unit president Sat Pal Sharma to Raj Bhavan on Friday separately for parleys on government formation.
Earlier this week, a long-standing impasse with the BJP was ended when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Mufti in Delhi on Tuesday. Mufti had termed the meeting as “very positive and good”, triggering speculation that their talks over government formation was back on track following months of impasse.