Jammu and Kashmir’s constitution does not allow vacant post of the chief minister
GN Bureau | January 8, 2016
Mehbooba Mufti will be the country's first Muslim woman chief minister of India and first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. She is expected to take oath today and succeed her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who died in Delhi yesterday after a brief illness.
As per Jammu and Kashmir constitution the chief minister's post cannot be kept vacant and governor's rule comes into effect immediately in case of a void. This leaves no choice for Mehbooba or for that matter the coalition partner BJP.
Mehbooba wanted to take oath after the traditional four-day mourning for father is over. However, her close aides in the party seem to have persuaded her to assume office of the chief minister today to avert a brief spell of governor’s rule.
A quick transition also leaves little room or time for the BJP to negotiate over the next chief minister.
Even then BJP general secretary Ram Madhav landed in Srinagar today to meet party legislators. Madhav was instrumental in stitching up the alliance between the ideologically-divergent BJP and PDP after the last assembly elections.
Meanwhile, the PDP has already sent its letter of support for Mehbooba to the governor.
In state elections held in December 2014, the PDP had won 28 of Jammu and Kashmir's 87 seats, dominating the Kashmir Valley, but fell short of a majority. The BJP placed number 2 in the state with 25 seats, all won in the Jammu region. The National Conference has 15 seats and the Congress 12.
Sayeed is the third J&K chief minister to die in office but a delay in the announcement of the successor is unprecedented. When Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq died in a Chandigarh hospital on December 12, 1971, the transfer of power took place the same day and Mir Qasim succeeded him.
National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was succeeded by son Farooq Abdullah in September, 1982.
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