Mehbooba to expand Council of Ministers today
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will carry out tomorrow the first expansion of her nine-month-old ministry with induction of one or two PDP members.
“There is a cabinet reshuffle. New Ministers will be inducted into the government tomorrow,” a top source in the state government said.
According to the arrangement between the two allies, PDP has a quota of 14 ministers, including the Chief Minister, while BJP has 11 ministerial berths.
Currently, PDP has 12 Ministers and BJP has 11 Ministers including, the Deputy Chief Minister and Sajjad Lone.
According to sources, PDP MLA from Amira Kadal constituency Altaf Bukhari is likely to stage a comeback.
Bukhari, who was a minister in the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government, was not included in the cabinet when Mehbooba was sworn-in as the Chief Minister in April last year.
There are unconfirmed reports that Mehbooba is also likely to induct an MLA from South Kashmir in the ministry.
Besides Bukhari, Javid Mustafa Mir and two Ministers of State Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majeed Padroo, who were part of the previous government led by her father, had been dropped by her.
BJP had dropped Sukhnandan Choudhary. The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers.
The PDP wants to strengthen its base in Srinagar district, where party leader Tariq Hamid Karra, had resigned from the party and quit his Lok Sabha seat, leading to by-poll. With Karra now siding with the Congress, the PDP wants to put up a good show in the by-poll.
Sources, however, ruled out any exclusion from the Council of Ministry-either from the PDP or the BJP saying all 22 Ministers would continue.
“The BJP will be untouched in the expansion in the Council of Ministry as it has already completed its quota of 11 Ministries in the Council. It has eight Cabinet Ministers including Sajjad Lone of People’s Conference and three Ministers of State, one of them, Sunil Sharma with Independent Charge of Transport.
The PDP too has eight Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State including one, Farooq Andrabi, with Independent Charge of Haj and Auqaf.
Taking into account, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, total strength of the Ministry comes out at 23. Under Jammu and Kashmir laws, there can be maximum of 25 Ministers (20 per cent of the total strength of both Houses of Legislature). There are two vacancies in the Council of Ministry.
In Mufti Sayeed regime, PDP had 14 Ministers including the Chief Minister and BJP 11.
The BJP had dropped two Ministers (Sukhnandan Choudhary and Pawan Gupta, Independent) while switching over from Mufti Sayeed regime to the Government headed by Mehbooba Mufti. It had replaced them with Sham Choudhary and Ajay Nanda. However, the PDP had dropped four Ministers but inducted only two new faces (Zahoor Ahmad Mir and Farooq Ahmad Andrabi), keeping two vacancies for it. Sources said the induction of one or two Ministers in the Council of Ministry would lead to change of some portfolios but the change would be confined to the PDP only and the portfolios of the BJP will remain unchanged.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been holding additional charge of various Departments including Home, GAD, Planning, Tourism, Hospitality and Protocol, Estates, Civil Aviation, Information etc.
The portfolio of Works Department, then held by Altaf Bukhari, is presently with PDP veteran leader Abdul Rehman Veeri.