Tassaduq Hussain Mufti’s plunge into politics comes at a time when the state is gearing up for by-elections for two Lok Sabah seats – Anantnag and Srinagar.
Srinagar: In January 2015, just days after the death of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, his son Tassaduq Hussain Mufti attracted media attention when he attended the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meeting convened to take a call on the party’s alliance with the BJP.
The fact that 45-year old shy-looking Tassaduq would run away from politics was an open secret within the political circles of the Valley. He was, until then, largely known for his work in Bollywood movies like Omkara and Kaminey.
But his presence at the crucial meeting led to rumours of him joining politics.
As speculations grew, top leaders from the PDP, including Mufti’s close aide Naem Akther, dismissed them insisting that Tassaduq wasn’t interested in politics.
However, exactly a year later, on January 7, the first anniversary of Mufti’s death, the “reluctant” son finally stepped into his father’s shoes.
For Kashmir, where hereditary politics has grown over the years, it was another “son rise” in state politics.
“All my life I remained aloof from politics. But today I officially joined the PDP. I will walk with you and take your aspirations along,” Tassaduq told party supporters in his maiden public speech.
A senior party leader said that Tassaduq had a change of heart only after Mufti, a few months before his death, spoke to him on a couple of occasions, insisting him to reconsider his future.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also encouraged her younger brother as she was “feeling lonely,” said the party leader.
Tassaduq’s plunge into politics comes at a time when the state is gearing up for by-elections for two Lok Sabah seats – Anantnag and Srinagar. If the grapevine is to be believed, Tassaduq will be fielded from the Anantnag constituency that was vacated by Mehbooba before she took over as chief minister.
Mehbooba is also yet to take a decision on whether she will continue to hold the post of party president or chose a successor in order to concentrate on governance in the sensitive state.
Tassaduq, who left home at a young age and went to the American Film Institute to become a cinematographer, has a keen interest in environment and heritage. This was evident during his brief speech to party workers when he talked about the degradation of Kashmir’s environment over the years and the tardy pace at which things move in the state.
Tassaduq is now the third member of the Mufti family to join politics. His maternal uncle, Sartaj Madni, who lost in 2014 assembly election, gained prominence after Mehbooba took over as the chief minister. He shadows Mehbooba at every important event and, according to sources, is now calling shots in the party.
Mufti’s nephew, Sajad Ahmad Mufti, who joined politics in 2015 after prematurely retiring from the Indian Forest Service, holds the crucial position of being in charge of the party for south Kashmir, which is spread over four districts and is considered to be a PDP stronghold.
“He [Sajad] has a say in every decision whether related to the development or party in the region. Nothing would move without his concurrence,” said another senior party leader. Additionally, late Mufti’s brother-in-law, Farooq Ahmad Andrabi, who won his maiden assembly election by defeating state Congress’s G.A. Mir from Dooru constituency in 2014, was given the post of a minister in Mehbooba’s government ahead of several senior legislators.
Rise of dynasty politics
Tassaduq joining politics is yet another example of how dynasty politics, like in other states of the country, continues to grow in Jammu and Kashmir.
Take the example of National Conference – founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, his son Farooq Abdullah and grandson Omar Abdullah have all been the chief ministers of the state.
This hereditary politics is not limited only at the top level in the state parties. After reconstituting its youth wing, the National Conference has handed over key positions to sons of party loyalists. At present, Salman Sagar, son of senior party leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, is the provincial president of the party’s youth wing while the four vice president positions are held by the sons of former or incumbent National Conference legislators.
Party spokesperson Imran Nabi, however, argued that party leaders have worked hard for years together to earn the place. “Our youth president for Kashmir is in politics for the past more than 15 years. Others too have worked for years together to reach the positions where they are now,” Nabi told The Wire.
“In our party, you won’t find people being para-trooped,” said Nabi, referring to Tassaduq’s plunge into politics.
The “desire to effect a positive change” in the society and the glamour of political life are among several factors that attracts the younger generation of political families.
Salman Soz, son of former state Congress president Saif-ud-din Soz, contested and lost his maiden assembly election from Baramulla constituency in 2014 after serving in the World Bank for more than 15 years.
Interestingly, Salman, who has disappeared from state politics now, had lost to the nephew of former deputy chief minister and current MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who maintain a large grip over the Baramulla constituency.
Political analyst Rekha Choudhary traces the growth of dynasty politics in J&K to the failure of the parties to allow the strong internal democratic system to grow. “We are still in a feudal stage of democracy where dynasty and persona of a person plays a large role than a well established democratic norm,” she told The Wire. “Hence people coming from dynastic background consider parties their personal property to toss it in any direction.”