The day Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s funeral was taking place, corridors of Srinagar were already abuzz with chatter. Rumour had it that his daughter Mehbooba Mufti would be the next chief minister before the next dawn.
Some circles were confident that even the arrangements for this process have been put in place.
A senior official told me right after the funeral: "There is a constitutional crisis. It could happen even tonight."
The venue, the possibility of the state’s governor being requested to be in the summer capital, all these things were being discussed. But as time passed things became clear. None of this was happening.
Mehbooba Mufti was too shattered to indulge into anything like that. A close family member described her condition to me and said, "For the first few days we weren’t even sure what to do. She was inconsolable. There were only two things that she would do. Cry and pray".
That is Mehbooba Mufti for you. "Her image has been of a firm and tough politician but those who know her also understand the bond she shared with her father. The relationship wasn’t just of a father-daughter. It was of someone who was a mentor and a friend", the person added.
Taking time to stabilise is natural, but, in politics, the period of "nothing" always finds a companion in speculations. Almost everyone who has anything to do with the state is asking the question: What next? Are they are going with the same arrangement or will the state be pushed towards a new election?
Meanwhile, in all this, another interesting development was unfolding. Mufti Sayeed’s only son Tassaduq Hussain, who so far preferred to stay away from politics, was suddenly becoming the topic of interest. While his visual appearances had already set the stage, the news was out in the open when he was introduced by sister Mehbooba to party leaders attending the first core group meet after Mufti’s demise.
He has been introduced as someone who wants to know his father more by being with people who worked with him and trying to understand the work too. But even the people in the party know it is not just that.
A party leader answered a questioned about him by saying, "He is very talented. He takes things seriously. He is very keen on areas like environment, tourism, cleanliness. He could be an asset to us if he wants to work".
Tassaduq Hussain’s entry may have come as a surprise to many but those who know him say he has been involved in projects of social works in the state earlier too. His focus areas so far have been sanitation, environment and ecology. The man, as per many, has a keen eye for art. He is a US educated cinema professional.
I personally remember his famous "Google Search: Reunion" advertisement from 2013 which beautifully showcases the bond between people on the either side of the divide in India and Pakistan. If reports are to be believed Mufti Sayeed always wanted him to take interest in politics though he never insisted. "His return and taking interest in things had to happen but Mufti sahab’s death may have played a catalyst", said a party source.
The word also is that Mufti Sayeed may have told Tassaduq about assisting Mehbooba while he was being treated in AIIMS.
The two of them are already like a team. He seems to be keen to learn the ropes and the sister looks eager to help him understand it all. In the meetings so far, the body language is clear.
Tassaduq would be seen with a notepad meticulously jotting down points. He patiently listens to Mehbooba while she addresses and seems to be constantly trying to learn. He interferes and points out only when something interests him. Both of them believe in what their father stood for.
They have been quoted saying that Mufti Sayeed always thought about the people first and all his decisions stemmed out of his desire to better the lives of those who live in the state of J&K. Both of them have also publically defended Mufti Sayeed’s most controversial decision of tying up with the BJP.
And that is what brings many to point out, whether the combination of Mehbooba’s experience and Tassaduq’s freshness is the future of PDP in J&K.