Jammu and Kashmir might be headed for a few days of governor’s rule as the PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mehbooba Mufti is not ready to take oath before the four-day mourning for her father is over, a senior party leader said on Friday.
“Mehboobaji is not ready and oath-taking will happen only after chahrum (the fourth day ceremony) is over,” said senior leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh who is tipped to succeed Mehbooba as PDP president.
The state’s chief minister and Mehbooba’s father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, died at AIIMS in Delhi on Thursday leaving the state technically without a government.
Beigh, who is also senior lawyer and a constitutional expert, added that there will be no constitutional crises due to the vacuum. “There will be a few days of governor’s rule but he will be a caretaker till another chief minister takes oath,” said Beigh.
Barring any last-minute hitches, Mehbooba, 56, is set to become the state’s first woman chief minister with coalition partner BJP indicating it was comfortable with her at the helm.
Beigh also stressed that the party does not want to put pressure on Mehbooba. “She is a mother, a daughter, a sister…the tragedy is huge and she is everybody’s source of strength. It will be unfair to force her to do something,” he said.
Though the BJP is yet to submit written support for Mehbooba, Beigh said the ally had no problem with the transition. “My old BJP friends tell me that the party has no problem with Mehboobaji as CM,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, the BJP is likely to submit by Friday afternoon a formal letter pledging support to Mehbooba.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav – instrumental in stitching up the alliance between the ideologically-divergent BJP and PDP after the assembly elections – is also arriving in Srinagar this afternoon.
BJP spokesman Sunil Sethi told HT that all party MLAs were in Srinagar where Madhav is likely to hold a meeting with them in the presence of state in-charge Avinash Rai.
“The meeting is likely to take place in the afternoon and the decision will be conveyed to the governor accordingly,” Sethi said.
Sayeed is the third J&K chief minister to die in office but a delay in the announcement of the successor is unprecedented.
When Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq died in a Chandigarh hospital on December 12, 1971, the transfer of power took place the same day and Mir Qasim succeeded him.
National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was succeeded by son Farooq Abdullah even before the legendary Kashmiri leader was laid to rest on September 8, 1982.