Mehbooba Mufti takes oath as J&K CM

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People's Democratic Party, took the oath as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, thereby ending 11 weeks of political uncertainty. Twenty-three ministers were sworn in along with her.

A leader with grassroots-level popularity, Mehbooba Mufti turned the PDP into a regional force and emerged from the shadow of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, also a former chief minister, to head Jammu and Kashmir.

A law graduate, 56-year-old Mehbooba Mufti took a plunge into mainstream politics of the state in 1996 by joining the Congress along with her father, at a time when militancy was at its peak.

She is credited with the growth of the PDP, with some observers arguing that she outshone her father in connecting with the people, especially the youth. She was also accused of going soft on separatists.

The PDP chose the green colour for the party flag and adopted a pen and inkpot election symbol for the Muslim United Front (MUF) of 1987, and these moves found some resonances on the ground among the Kashmir residents.

Heading a PDP-BJP government - an alliance between two ideological extremes - Mufti faces a challenging task ahead as she will strive to carry forward her father's 'healing touch' legacy.

A mother of two daughters, she assumed an image of a fiery leader and won her first Assembly election as a Congress candidate from her home segment of Bijbehara.

She then played a key role in her father's victory as Congress candidate in Lok Sabha elections of 1998 when he defeated National Conference's Mohammad Yousuf Taing from south Kashmir.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed felt an urge to do something for return of peace to Kashmir, with Mehbooba Mufti by his side, and the father-daughter duo floated their regional party - the PDP - in 1999.

They took along some leaders disgruntled with National Conference and many from Congress, a party in which Sayeed spent most of his six-decade political career.

From there, Mehbooba Mufti took on the responsibility of building the new party. In the 2002 Assembly polls, termed as watershed in the state, PDP bagged 16 seats - most of them from the south of the state  where she had extensively campaigned and consolidated the support for her party and her father was sworn-in as the chief minister with the support of his former party Congress.

Two years later, she contested Parliamentary polls from south Kashmir and won her first Lok Sabha election. She contested Lok Sabha elections from Srinagar in 1999 but was defeated by her bÍte noire Omar Abdullah.

J&K slipped into the governor's rule immediately after sitting chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed's demise on 7 January. The PDP-BJP stalemate ended only after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mufti on 23 March.