From NC to Cong, Mufti’s career has seen many ups and downs

Junaid Nabi Bazaz

SRINAGAR: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who on Sunday took over as the 12th Chief Minister of J&K, has changed four different political parties in his six decade political career before he formed his own PDP.
Born in Baba Mohalla locality of Bijbehara, Anantnag on January 12, 1936, Mufti did his graduation from SP College Srinagar and then obtained a degree in law and Arab history from Aligarh Muslim University.
He jumped into politics in the late ‘50s when he joined National Conference (NC) in his home district Anantnag which was there led by veteran leader Piyare Lal Handoo. Many years later when Handoo fell out with the NC and joined Democratic National Conference (DNC), a splinter group of NC which would later emerge with the Congress, Mufti followed him. In 1962 DNC rejoined NC.
“Mufti went with the flow,” according to a PDP spokesman.
That year Mufti was elected to Assembly from his native area Bijbehara and retained the seat in 1967 election. Meanwhile, he was appointed as deputy minister in GM Sadiq’s government and later became a minister under Syed Mir Qasim’s government.
Then came the Sheikh-Indira Accord of 1975 which gave way to Mufti to become Congress chief in the state, the post he continued to hold for over a decade. Under difficult circumstances, Mufti became successful in firmly setting the foothold of Congress in the state.
Three years later in 1977 when Congress withdrew its support to NC, Mufti’s ambition to become the youngest CM at 41 was ruined by the dissolution of assembly. Till 1986, Mufti had to face a difficult time; he lost two elections that too from his home turf. He regained his political position only after the then PM of India, Rajiv Gandhi made him union minister for Tourism.
But again he had to face another difficult that too from his own party Congress. Mufti unhappy with Rajiv Gandhi-Farooq Abdullah accord quit both Congress and the government.
When Mufti was asked in an interview why he resigned from the Rajiv government, he said, “The ruling NC was number one and the Congress number two. So there was an opposition in the state. But then Rajiv Gandhi came up with an alliance with the NC. I was against that. Because when we joined the coalition, the vacuum in opposition was filled by the Muslim United Front comprising of the Jama’at-e-Islami etc.”
“In the 1987 election the whole Muslim votes got consolidated against the coalition. Rajiv and Farooq both got unnerved. So there was rigging done on a large scale. Master Muhammad Yusuf, who is now in Pakistan as the chief of the Jihad Council, was a candidate. He was leading here (in Srinagar). But when the results came, he was declared defeated! So there was not only rigging at the booth but at the counting centres also. That was my point of departure from the Congress,” he added
In 1989, Mufti joined VP Singh’s Jan Morcha and contested Lok Sabha election from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and became first time MP and India’s first Muslim Home Minister. But five days later, his daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed, a medical student, was abducted by militants of JKLF when she was returning home from the medical college in Srinagar. She was set free only after the release of five jailed militants of the JKLF. Mufti then appointed Jagmohan as the governor of the state which led Farooq Abdullah to resign as CM.
In the later years of ‘90s, Mufti returned to his mother party Congress under PV Narasimha Rao. But after a short time he again had differences with the party. Mufti quit the Congress again in 1996 and formed his own party, the PDP. In 2002, with 16 seats he formed coalition government with the Congress and ruled the state till 2005.