No change of guard in offing in Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar, Sep 1 (IANS) There will be no change of guard in the Jammu and Kashmir government and Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is not contemplating to hand over the baton to his daughter Mehbooba Mufti because of health reasons, sources said on Tuesday.

“Not true at all. Mufti sahib was in Mysore to attend a function. He is returning today (Tuesday) and there is no truth in the rumours that there is a change of guard on the cards in the state,” sources close to the chief minister said while categorically denying rumours and speculation about the matter.

Denials apart, local newspapers on Tuesday carried front page news about the speculation, with some trashing it as a figment of rumour mongers’ imagination and others adding to the speculation.

“This government will run its full term. There will be no change of guard and Mufti sahib is leading a normal healthy life”, said the sources.

“No truth in these rumours. All is well”, Mehbooba Mufti too said on Monday.

Political and public circles were agog with rumours for the last many days about the issue, with social media posts adding fuel to the speculation that the chief minister was thinking of handing over the reins to his daughter.

A question everybody began asking in both Srinagar and Jammu was whether the transition would happen this week or by the end of this month.

There were rumours that Sayeed was keeping indifferent health and hence the 79-year- old politician wished to hand over power to his daughter.

National Conference leaders engaged in a debate whether Mehbooba’s elevation would go down well with some senior leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party like Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra.

What probably added fuel to the rumour fire was the absence of the chief minister from capital Srinagar for three days when the state government was facing a crisis of sorts due to chief secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khandey’s decision to step down.

Khandey relinquished office on Monday and the state government is likely to take a call on the new chief secretary on Tuesday after the chief minister’s return to Srinagar.

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