Cabinet Expansion On Cards, Cong Ups Ante

Congress finalizing names, NC undecided

SRINAGAR: In an effort to fill up its three vacant portfolios in the Omar Abdullah led cabinet, the Congress party is mounting pressure on the coalition partner National Conference for much awaited expansion in the state cabinet, sources said.

According to Congress sources, party chief Saifuddin Soz after meeting the state Governor here today, flew to New Delhi where he is expected to seek a final approval for names of candidates for the three cabinet slots.

He will impress upon the party high command to convince the Omar led National Conference to finalize names for early expansion in the cabinet in wake of increasing resentment among the party ranks over lying of the portfolios with the Chief Minister, the sources added.

Pertinently, the state Congress has three of the cabinet portfolios of its share lying with the chief minister with two of them having been vacated after sacking of G M Saroori and Peerzada Muhammad Syeed from the R&B and Education portfolios respectively. One portfolio of the Congress share was already lying with the Chief Minister.

Although, the Congress party is adamant on expansion in coming days, the National Conference is said to be undecided in wake of too many contenders for its sole vacant portfolio. “NC has not been able to decide on finalizing the name of the candidate which is hampering the expansion of the cabinet and Soz will ask the high command to use its influence on pressurizing NC for expediting its nomination process”, the sources said.

Congress is believed to be hopeful of expansion within next two weeks after intervention by the high command of the party to take the Chief Minister into confidence, they added.

Meanwhile, according to reliable sources in the party, the NC Legislator from Kupwara Mir Saifullah in the front runner in the race for the lone cabinet berth to be filled by the party. However, there is a lot of pressure on the Chief Minister, as many other leaders are also staking claims and lobbying for inclusion into the cabinet, which is making it difficult for the CM to finalize the name, the sources maintained. (KNS)

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