J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has been in the Intensive Care Unit of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi for two weeks.
The ruling People's Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir is in a quandary, with the assembly session looming ahead and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed critically ill in a Delhi hospital. Unless the Mufti's condition improves, the party is likely to decide within the next few days who will head the government.
The presence of the Chief Minister is crucial ahead of the budget session which starts on January 18. No cabinet meeting can be convened without him. Sources said the party had two options: To name an officiating Chief Minister or formally appoint another person as the Chief Minister, in consultation with alliance partner BJP.
In case a new Chief Minister has to be appointed, Mr Sayeed's daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, who is also the party chief, is the unanimous choice of the party, sources said.
For the last two weeks, Mr Sayeed has been in the Intensive Care Unit of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. Doctors say his condition is critical, but stable. He is suffering from severe lung infection and he is on ventilator support.
Officials and PDP functionaries are downplaying the issue. "All ministers are taking care of their ministries, there is no pendency. There are some issues which are addressed by Chief Minister's office," said Wahid ur Rehman, political analyst at the Chief Minister's office.
For now, routine matters are being cleared by the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister. No policy decisions have been taken since the Mufti fell ill on December 23.
Ironically, over the last two weeks, the state's information department has been issuing statements quoting Mr Mufti.
Disturbed over the reports of his health, the party workers are holding a special prayer meeting in several parts of the valley for his speedy recovery.
"We pray for his speedy recovery. Mufti sahib is a visionary leader. We need him and state needs him," said Hamad, a young supporter of the party.