If Tragedy Mai Comedy (humor in tragedy) is a thing; Mehbooba Mufti is the scene. Following the sour break-up in 2018 of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with Hindu-nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir—Ms. Mufti is on a sarcastic spree—lashing out any, and every tweet.
Though it does seem like a good public relation (PR) activity, Twitter has bought itself a show for sure. After PDP losing crucial pawns and a few bishops from the field, including Altaf Bukhari, and Javaid Mustafa Mir, the renovation of Ms. Mufti’s image is dragging PDP in the limelight again. Following the face-off with Rajat Sharma, India TV’s Editor-in-chief, in their show—Aap ki Adaalat—last month, the conversations in the tea shops around the streets in Kashmir were taken over by her blunt, and straight responses; just like her Twitter recently.
Back in 1996, starting in the shoes of Indian National Congress (INC), she was elected in the state assembly from Bijbehara. But, relations turned sour again, and Mufti Syed, the father of Ms. Mufti, parted from INC to form PDP in 1999. With time, being the daughter of Mr. Syed, a former Home Minister of India, Ms. Mufti’s podium only rose in the party.
After a lot of ups and downs among public perception, losing to the rival, whose political career walk along the similar line as of her’s, Omar Abdullah, son of the then chief minister (CM) Farooq Abdullah, in her first parliamentary elections from Srinagar, to becoming the first female CM of Jammu and Kashmir in 2016, Ms. Mufti—has developed a better sense of humor—at least on Twitter—than most of her counterparts.
In a tweet from 1 March 2019, mentioning female journalist, Swati Chaturvedi, regarding the recent controversial airstrike by Indian Air Force in Balakote area of Pakistan, she wrote: “…welcome to the club of so-called anti-nationals. In our case, aunty national is good too :).”
She has also been praised by political critics for her feminist stature on Twitter; she has lashed out many online trolls, as well as politicians stating: “Sadly even in today’s modern world, patriarchy plus brazen sexism always raises its ugly head & is normalized. What a woman chooses to wear is none of anybody’s business. Anyone who indulges in such talk clearly needs therapy so I hope he gets well soon.”
But at the same time, she stands among the colliding questions regarding her on-ground practices, that goes in contrast to her Twitter. Her role as the sitting CM during 2016 civilian uprising has garnered her harsh criticism on her social media posts online.
There have been numerous reports stating that the social media content, especially humorous political memes, have a major influence on the perception. Regarding this, Ms. Mufti seems to be playing right.
Her obsession with right-wing flaring around
From targeting right-wing, BJP’s events like, Mera Booth Sabse Mazboot, by stating an event where a member of parliament hit the member of legislative assembly with a shoe in Uttar Pradesh, she said , “From mera booth sabse mazbut to mera shoe sabse mazbut,” to targeting Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s statements like, “I am majdoor No. 1,” saying, “For a minute I thought that was the title of a new Govinda movie ,” only fuels her Twitter drive.
Replying to the controversial NaMo TV’s wave in India, Ms. Mufti believes that Mr. Modi is nothing but , ‘India’s answer to Kim Jong Un’, while labeling central policy of blaming Nehru for all the wrong decisions and policies, she said, “NDA has undertaken is the equivalent of a child using the dog ate my homework alibi in school.”
Rather than going on debate shows, shouting to air, she takes her Twitter handle to poke an elbow. Attacking BJP’s tough stance on Pakistan, she pointed out the Agenda of Alliance (A0A), saying, “…BJP ka iman jaag gaya .” And borrowing a few lines from Ghalib, sometimes, she tackles politicians, like she tweeted once regarding the Karnataka former CM, Yedduyerappa’s claiming ‘22 seats on basis of Balakot strike’, “Dil ko behlane ke liye Ghalib, Yeh khayal acha hai,” to mentioning the plight of Kashmiri porters in Himachal Pradesh after Pulwama attack, in a similar style, saying, “Lamhon ne khata ki thi Sadiyon ne saza payi.”
But, her love for the snippets doesn’t die there, reacting to Congress’s promises in manifesto, remembers the childhood show, Mungeri Lal ke Haseen Sapne, and stole her style of snippets, saying, “Zindagi cheen le bakshi hui daulat apni, Tu ne khwabon ke siwa mujh ko diya bhi kya hai”.
But, other than just stand-up sarcasm, what rings differently in her handle are the emojis. Teasing Mr. Abdullah via a face winking with a tongue, to the long nose face while responding to a comment by Maharashtra’s governor that states RSS as a most secular organization, saying, “Sure. RSS is the most secular organization just as I am Queen of England tweeting about this from the moon. ”
Hitting out in random
Down the road, walking a few feet away—she seems to find someone, on Twitter and lashes out in random. Replying to a tweet which has a mention of an infant named on Indian Air Force’s Wing Commander Abhinandan, later deleted, she said, “Great choice for a name but last I checked women were the ones who gave birth Also baby looks quite big for a newborn.” Yay, an emoji again; and another one while replying to ANI’s report, “For the those who are asking, the is for BJPs countless imaginary ‘friends’ in Kashmir.”
She is also taking the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, and the major crackdown on Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), right before the Lok Sabha elections in India, to her Twitter; ending up inviting mainland Indian criticism and prime-time debates.
She has also been surrounded by the haunting ‘toffee’ remark she made alongside Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, once in a press conference in 2016, even now. Adding many such incidents to the list, she has been a regular receiver of online trolls, majorly on Twitter.
Other political representatives from Valley mostly write on standard ink on Twitter, including Mr. Abdullah. While Sajad Lone has been finally verified by Twitter, Farooq Abdullah stays away from Twitter.
Though, Mr. Abdullah plays his own part in the online bull-game. He has also with time targeted Mr. Modi via his Twitter, often mentioning his administrative failure. Well, Twitter has brought along the rival-duo more than once; only time younger Mr. Abdullah’s Twitter had a pinch of fun was her hand-in-hand walk with Ms. Mufti during their failed pitch of forming a government to the governor, Satya Pal Malik. From sharing memes to exchanging emojis, the rivals have had a good small relation until Mr. Malik spilled the beans and dissolved the assembly.
Though, Ms. Mufti seems to be living a double life; but, the one on political grounds—away from Twitter—she has made her mark being the leading female politician from Valley, but with Election Commission of India leaving J-K assembly elections clinging amid speculations—the turf ahead lies rough for the lady.
Although, apart from these big figures, one should also applaud the District Magistrate of Srinagar, Shahid Chaudhary, for his tweet regarding news doing rounds of his office shift in times of war-hysteria in the Valley. He wrote: When you are “High”. Pl(ease) don’t make your paper “Kuch Bhi Times”.
Yashraj Sharma is features writer at The Kashmir Walla