With Congress' star on the wane and National Conference losing its popularity in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has a strong chance of making a comeback to power in the state.
Daughter of former Union home minister and J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti is viewed as a fiery leader, who has her finger on the pulse of the state.
Mehbooba, born on May 22, 1959, is a law graduate from Kashmir University and is credited to have revived PDP at a time when the political fortunes of the Abdullah family were still on the upswing in the Valley.
Like her father, Mehbooba began her career with the Congress in 1996. However, later she resigned and formed the PDP along with her father. Mehbooba went on enter the Parliament in 2004 to become the youngest and only the third woman politician from the troubled state to achieve this distinction.
During the 1990's era, when militancy was at its peak in the state, Mehbooba struck an emotional chord with the people by visiting the families of victims and holding protests. Her gusty efforts paid political dividends and she emerged as a potent force in the state, especially in south Kashmir and Anantnag.
For the upcoming Assembly Elections, Mehbooba has maintained that PDP will fight the elections “to uphold J&K's special position, protect its distinct identity, undertake a massive development programme and resolve the political, social and economic issues facing the state”.
The PDP chief, known for her strong oratory skills, is also trying to corner the Omar Abdullah-led NC government on the issue of corruption and unemployment. Partial or full revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is also another issue on which Mufti must be hoping to garner votes.
However, Mehbooba, who has a good chance of tasting success in the upcoming polls, has all the reasons to worry about the growing ambitions of Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party. BJP president Amit Shah is said to have scripted a plan to ensure that BJP gets to form the government in the state. It's called BJP's 'Mission 44'.
Recently, Mehbooba said at a public rally in Kishtwar, “The electoral contest is now mainly between PDP and BJP; casting votes for NC or Congress would be a sheer wastage of your power to change”.
Well, it's just a matter of time now. On December 23, it will be clear whether Mehbooba Mufti withstands the NaMo wave or gets blown away.