Mufti family vacates CM’s bungalow in Jammu

Amid suspense over next government formation, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s family has vacated the Chief Minister’s official bungalow in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, leading to questions as to what his daughter and expected successor Mehbooba Mufti could be up to.

Begum Gulshan, wife of the late leader and mother of Mehbooba, visited the bungalow at Wazarat Road in Jammu city on January 18, just 11 days after Sayeed’s demise, and took away the family belongings.

“Mufti Sahab ceased to be the Chief Minister and on 18th of this month, the family got its all personal belongings from that house in the best traditions of public conduct,” PDP spokesman and former Minister Naeem Akhtar told PTI.

“There is nothing political about it. This is a normal practice..Mufti Sahab had always batted for this,” he said, adding “It is the designated house of the Chief Minister. How can someone who is not a Chief Minister stay there?”

According to rules, official accommodation can be retained for one month after a person ceases to be the Chief Minister but the family did not wait even for that time limit. During winter months (six months from November to April), the seat of the state government shifts to Jammu and for rest of the six months, it is in Srinagar.

The step by the family assumes significance as Mehbooba is expected to be the next Chief Minister since PDP is the largest party in the 87-member Assembly with 27 MLAs and it has an alliance with 25-member BJP. The two parties ran a coalition government headed by Sayeed for 10 months before his demise on January 7.

After her father’s death, Mehbooba has maintained suspense over the issue of government formation in the state which is under Governor’s Rule since January 8. An official of the Estates Department which is responsible for allocation of government accommodations said there was no handover and takeover with the family.

“Whatever may be technicalities, they have taken all of their belongings. That means that they have vacated it,” the official added.

“This is an exceptional case… Mufti sahib’s wife had come to official CM’s residence and took away all of the family belongings,” the official said.

The step intensified the suspense as to what Mehbooba is up to with regard to the government formation as all eyes are on her only.

Some indication in this regard may be obtained after she meets senior party workers and zonal presidents on January 31 in Srinagar to discuss the latest developments in the state including getting feedback from them on government formation.

A similar meeting has been convened by her in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, on February 3. Days back, she held a meeting with senior leaders who authorised her to take a decision on the formation of the next government but she has still not revealed her cards.