Landmark: Mehbooba Mufti is Kashmir’s first woman chief minister

Women In Politics: Mehbooba Mufti

Mehbooba Mufti, President of PDP & daughter of late Chief minister of Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is the first female Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the least, this is a big milestone in the history of the state and of India.

Mother of two daughters Mehbooba started her career back in 1996 and has never lost an election ever (from south Kashmir). Mehbooba is a member of Lok Sabha, representing Anantnag Constituency of Kashmir.

Here’s a look at Mehbooba’s career and some of her most defining leadership traits.

  • Fifty-six-year-old Mehbooba Mufti, president of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and unquestionably the most firebrand among Jammu & Kashmir’s mainstream politicians.
  • Mehbooba is known to be stern on her terms of dealing with her political contemporaries and is a tough negotiator. She is known in the state for her confidence, and working under pressure.
Mehbooba Mufti

Mehbooba Mufti

  • A law graduate from the University of Kashmir, Mehbooba is amongst one of the most recognised Indian female leaders in politics
  • Mehbooba played a key role in her father’s victory as Congress candidate in Lok Sabha elections of 1998 when Sayeed defeated NC’s Mohammad Yousuf Taing from south Kashmir.
  • When elections for the state assembly were held in 1996, Mehbooba became one of the most popular members elected from Bijbehara on an Indian National Congress ticket. Her father had at that time returned to the Congress, which he had left in 1987
  • The Hindi reports she has had her share of detractors in the saffron ranks for several reasons, including her passionate espousal of her party’s ‘self-rule’ concept, which used to be dubbed “as soft separatism” by many in the BJP.
1996 – 99  Leader, Congress Legislature Party, Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly
2002-2004  Member, Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly for the 2nd Term
2004  Elected to 14th Lok Sabha
2009  President of Jammu & Kashmir People’s Democratic Party
2014  Re-elected to 16th Lok Sabha

Ashima Kaul notes in her piece for the Times of India that Mehbooba has been clever and deft about using gender norms to strengthen her position rather than becoming vulnerable as a woman. She adds that while dynasty gives her a shield, Mehbooba’s individuality has driven her political ambitions.

“Mebooba had craftily cut across these parameters, using ‘gender norms’ for strengthening her position within the party and the Kashmiri society. As in all patriarchal societies, in Kashmir too, a woman is perceived through her gender roles as a mother, sister or a daughter. One can either admire Mehbooba or hate her guts for surviving in the midst of ‘danger’.”

The Mufti family with some key associates setup their own regional party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999. While often the media puts the spotlight on Mehbooba’s anger and her strong political statements, she is in the spotlight for reflecting maturing and political acumen while dealing with alliances and positions of power.