It's a slot which she will find very difficult to fill, more so in Jammu & Kashmir where internal dynamics determine the fate of the state as much as the external factors.
Yet, every right-meaning Indian must be praying Mehbooba Mufti proves her detractors wrong as she is set to take charge of the state following her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's death.
The challenge for Mehbooba remains multidimensional. Not only will she need to consolidate her position within the party, but also she will have to allay the misgivings, if any, that linger in the minds of her coalition partner - the BJP.
The issue gains significance given the fact that the great PDP-BJP experiment has been through a rough patch during the first seven months since it has been in power. Now with the Mufti's death, the challenge becomes even bigger.
More than the internal dynamics, however, it's the external factors that influence the politics of the state. There are as many people inside Jammu & Kashmir who will want to stir trouble for Mehbooba as there are outside. In that sense, her first few months in power will be crucial. If she succeeds in holding the complicated alliance together and running the state smoothly, Mehbooba will become a major political player in the state.
Mehbooba's transition would no doubt have been much easier - and seamless - had Mufti Sayeed overseen the power shift. In fact, he had announced just before he took severely ill that she would soon take over the reins.
However, Mehbooba must have learnt a great deal from her father, who would not refrain from rebuking her publicly for her occasional extreme views. Like her father, she will have to balance the expectations of people in the Valley with the national sentiments.
Only time will tell if Mehbooba will be up to the task, but the state - and the nation - definitely can't afford to think otherwise.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)