J-K: Tassaduq Hussain appears in the wings as Mehbooba takes Centre-stage

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The delay in government formation in Jammu and Kashmir seems to have a lot to do with PDP President Mehbooba Mufti trying to ensure that the reins of power within her party remains with the Mufti family.
While officially the PDP maintains that it is reviewing the implementation of the Agenda of Alliance during the 10-month coalition government with BJP, Mehbooba has devoted her energies over the past week to introducing her younger brother to the politics of the state in the aftermath of their father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7.
The PDP president is keen that Tassaduq Hussain — an ace cinematographer of ‘Omkara’ fame — shoulders some responsibilities of managing the party.
The 44-year-old only son of the late chief minister made a silent appearance at the meeting of the PDP Core Group last Sunday where Mehbooba was authorised to take the final call with regard to government formation in the state.
“He had been reluctant to even think about politics while Mufti sahib was alive, but of late he has shown some inclination towards joining active politics,” a senior PDP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Given the powers enjoyed by a party president in Jammu and Kashmir under its stringent anti-defection law, Mehbooba wants to hand over the reins to somebody close and Tassaduq seems to have emerged as the ideal choice.
The state anti-defection law, passed by the Assembly in 2007, does not provide for any defection — not even if the number of defectors are one-third, or more, of a party’s strength of MLAs as provided in the national Act.
Former Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri feels that the state anti-defection law makes the post of party president very powerful.
“When the House is in session, the MLAs are bound to follow the whips of their respective parties or face disqualification,” he said.
While there was no official word on Tassaduq taking the political plunge, the circumstances might force him to play a more active role, at least within the party.
“The PDP president has not only lost her father and mentor but her pillar of strength as well.
“There are many able leaders to guide her on the political front, but she can do with some advice and counsel on matters which might not be out and out political in nature,” the PDP leader said.
Tassaduq further fueled speculation about him joining active politics when he spoke at an informal meeting of PDP leaders at Mehbooba’s residence to mark the 15th day of Sayeed’s death.
PDP insiders believe that Tassaduq was making a soft entry into politics as he chose to speak about environment, rather than politics, at the meeting.
“He did not talk politics. His speech was focused on the environment and the need to preserve it,” said a PDP MLA who was present at the meeting.
The MLA asserted that if there is any government in the state, it will be that of the PDP-BJP coalition.
“I do not think anyone is ready for an early election, be it from PDP or the BJP. There are some issues but these will be ironed out in the coming days,” he said.
As Mehbooba met a group of young entrepreneurs at her residence on Friday, the presence of Tassaduq there was not lost on anyone.
Some of those who attended the meeting spoke highly about the cinematographer, who might be adding some colour to the state’s political landscape in the coming days.
“He (Tassaduq) seems to be aware of issues — both political and otherwise. He had encouraging words for us and even cited some success stories from the entrepreneurial world during the discussion,” one of the budding entrepreneurs said.
While the Muftis are tight-lipped about the developments, a source in the PDP president’s residence said Tassaduq left for Mumbai soon after the meeting with the entrepreneurs.
“It might be related to his work, we have no idea,” the source said.

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