The younger brother of chief minister was introduced to party none other than his sister Mehbooba Mufti. When chief minister introduced Tassaduq to the party legislators last winter it became clear then that in the coming days, the 45 year old who was a cinematographer by profession will be assigned some big role in the J&K politics and a year later he was assigned one of the top portfolios in the cabinet.
Last week Tassaduq Mufti was sworn in as the new Tourism minister of Jammu and Kashmir in a simple function held at the beautiful lawns of Raj Bhawan in winter capital Jammu. Along with Tassaduq Mufti another legislator and former minister, Javeed Mustafa Mir was also administered oath of the office by J&K Governor, Narendra Nath Vohra.
Two ministers who took oath belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and by this the party completed its quota of ministers in the coalition government. The BJP that is coalition partner in the government has filled all its cabinet slots. Last time, the PDP had kept a cabinet slot vacant and this slot was now filled with the entry of Tassaduq Mufti into the cabinet. Tassaduq Mufti will be now sitting alongside senior cabinet ministers taking important decisions on the state.
Before the cabinet reshuffle, the maternal uncle of J&K chief minister, Farooq Andrabi who is legislator from the Dooru assembly segment was asked to resign to pave way for the entry of Tassaduq into cabinet. Tassaduq Mufti, a political novice is new to politics and joined the politics on the first death anniversary of his father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in last January at Tagore hall during a big ceremony.
The younger brother of chief minister was introduced to party none other than his sister Mehbooba Mufti. When chief minister introduced Tassaduq to the party legislators last winter it became clear then that in the coming days, the 45 year old who was a cinematographer by profession will be assigned some big role in the J&K politics and a year later he was assigned one of the top portfolios in the cabinet. Tassaduq was nominated to the Upper House through a seat that got vacant after the PDP leader and another scion of erstwhile Dogra rulers of J&K Vikramyaatya Singh son of Dr Karan Singh resigned.
He resigned from the PDP and as MLC blaming the PDP for ignoring the rights of the people of Jammu province. With the entry of Tassaduq into the cabinet, the political analysts believe that J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is not only trying to strengthen influence of her family in the government but also on the party as still many political watchers feel that some senior leaders could have undermined the position of J&K chief minister like they did in past when Mehbooba had refused to take oath as chief minister. With brother in cabinet and maternal uncle holding the reins of party, the analysts feel that party will now be kept under tight control of Mufti family.
The efforts of Tassaduq’s coronation started last month when he sent his resignation papers as coordinator CM’s Grievance Cell to J&K chief secretary B B Vyas. In May last year Tassaduq Mufti took over as the coordinator of the Cell after elections for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was deferred due to “the constant unrest” across South Kashmir. Earlier the PDP had plans to get Tassaduq Mufti elected to the parliament from Anantnag so that he will remain in touch with the national leaders and will emerge as the party’s national face, however, after the Election Commission of India deferred the by- elections on the advice of the Home department. The PDP policy makers started looking for other options for the Tassaduq.
Through grievance cell he (Tassaduq) started interfering into every department as per the opponents of the PDP. However, his presence in the grievance cell also led to the resolution of many day to day issues of common masses and large number of people from different parts of the state sent their grievances to the cell. Earlier, Tassaduq Mufti was nominated as the party candidate for the by elections for Anantnag Lok sabha seat that was vacated by Mehbooba Mufti after she got elected from the Anantnag assembly seat and she took over as the chief minister of the state.
Tassaduq, 45 stayed away from Kashmir politics during most of his adult life. He is youngest of Mufti’s four children and his only son and returned to the state after their father, the then state CM, fell ill. Most of the time he was away from Kashmir, after leaving it in 1989, Tassaduq was enrolled in College of Business Studies at Delhi University. Later, he moved to filmmaking and made two documentaries, Travelers Tales and Trekkers Paradise. In 1999, he had joined a Masters program in cinematography at the American Film Institute, Los Angeles. After returning, he shot Bollywood blockbusters such as Omkara and Kaminey, as well as short films, including Strike and a South Korean film, Tree.
Since past one year, Tassaduq Mufti has formed his own team in the bureaucracy and many appointments were made at his behest. However, PDP leaders close to the Mufti family said that family aspired for him to play more important role in the issues of governance and his nomination to cabinet is also an endeavor to raise his political stature in the J&K politics.
In the coming days, if analysts are to be believed Tassaduq could be also given the reins of the party. Currently – the party had nominated Sartaj Madni as the vice president of the party while as Mehbooba Mufti was elected as president sixth time unopposed by the party, thus making the PDP a party no different from the National Conference where NC president and patron Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah are the most prominent faces of the party and have complete grip on the party and its affairs despite there are many other leaders but power lies with only two Abdullah’s and nobody could overrule them.
However on the coronation of Tassaduq, NC mocked them as Bhai – Bhen ke Sarkar, the jargon used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Sher e Kashmir stadium to describe two prominent political families of Kashmir during an election rally. For Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, Modi used words Bhaap Betay Ke Sarkaar (Father- son party) and for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and her daughter Mehbooba Mufti used words – Baap Beti Ka Sarkaar (Father – daughter party). After Tassaduq’s coronation, NC seems to have used same words for him. While criticizing the decision the NC termed the current government as Bhai – Behan Ki Sarkar.
The NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said that Tassaduq Mufti used to humiliate Cabinet Ministers by by-passing them and directly summoning files and senior officers from their departments. “Now it seems he will soon be summoning the Cabinet Ministers too for direct.’’ In Kashmir politics apart from separatists leadership – after National Conference, the PDP is one of the vibrant mainstream political parties and with two terms of governance the PDP has tried to convey New Delhi that like NC they too could be trusted for the ruling this troubled state.
As Congressman the founder of the PDP Mufti Mohammad Sayeed couldn’t become the J&K chief minister even lost elections, however, after he founded the PDP not only managed to become chief minister of J&K twice but now this party has workers at everyplace. However at the same time like NC the PDP is also turning into a family enterprise where in the coming days only Tassaduq and Mehbooba Mufti will have say and veterans and founders like MP Muzuffar Hussain Baig who has also served as the deputy chief minister of the state will be sidelined.
Political analysts feel that both NC and the PDP has many leaders who are connected to ground and have worked hard in their constituencies, however, they have been ignored as they don’t have any political ‘God Father’ or belong to some big political party. However from decades in the mainstream politics – only few families where given chance to rule and instead of spreading the benefits to other people, the leaders of the political families tried to keep power confined to their families which gave rise to cronyism.
Hope with the entry of Tassduq Mufti, instead of looking towards the family and relatives, the young icon of the new political family should try to play different politics and encourage talent and hard work instead of family background. ‘’This is in the fate of Kashmir, Shiekh Abdullah brought Farooq Abdullah and later Omar Abdullah was given power. Likewise, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed brought her daughter Mehbooba and now it is turn of Tassaduq Mufti. God knows tomorrow it will be children of Omar and Mehbooba who will rule this state,’’ said Mohammad Ashraf a senior political analyst. ‘’Hope this trend should change, otherwise it will look like emperorship not democracy.’’