Acid test for Mehbooba as BJP demands key portfolios

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SRINAGAR: As PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is all set to be the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP according to sources have demanded important portfolios including Finance , Planning and MoS (home) in the next cabinet.

While this may be extremely difficult a wish or demand for Mehbooba Mufti to accommodate, this could invariably send the alliance into a jittery.

Finance and Planning were previously held by the PDP. In fact, the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Syed held the charge of Planning.

According to well placed political sources, BJP is demanding twomore berths in the new Council to ‘balance’ the Cabinet.

In Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government, PDP had 11 Cabinet Ministers and BJP had only 7 (including Sajjad Gani Lone).

Quoting “barabar barabar” rule of coalition, BJP is insisting that both parties should have nine ministers each in the Cabinet. It is ready to concede one berth of MOS to PDP.

In Mufti’s Council, PDP has 3 Ministers of State while as BJP had 4. In total of 25 Ministers, PDP had (11+3) 14 while as BJP had (7+4) 11 who included 2 of its associate Members (Sajjad Lone and Pawan Gupta). According to sources, BJP is also seeking “balancing of portfolios” and demanding two of its MLAs’ induction as MOS Home and MOS Planning.

Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah while taking a jibe at the PDP looked like watching the proceedings with great interest. “Finance & Planning were previously held by PDP. In fact Mufti Syed was holding charge of planning. Interesting times,” Omar tweeted.

Rumours gained after the BJP decided to defer it’s meeting with the Governor N N Vohra saying they would hold the meeting its ally PDP first. Vohra had sent separate missives to both the PDP and BJP presidents to meet him on Marc 25 (Yesterday).  PDP’s meeting with Vohra was fixed at 3.pm but sources said that PDP had requested him to reschedule the meeting at 5.00pm.

Spokesmen disclosed that PDP and BJP leaders had later informed Raj Bhavan that talks between the leaders of their parties were ongoing at Jammu and they would make a fresh request for meeting the Governor when they will conclude their discussion.

It was reported the new PDP-BJP cabinet might see some young faces from PDP.

Sources said Mehbooba in her address to the party legislators on Thursday indicated that she would not compromise on integrity of her new cabinet and the ministers would be made responsible to the party legislators.

She said as and when government is formed, both BJP and PDP ministers will have to move out of their constituencies and reach out to the people at gross root level.

“I will not like my ministers to be constituency specific and instead they will be judged by their performance and public availability”, she told the legislators in the meeting.

They disclosed that Mehbooba is likely to go with some minor changes in her cabinet replacing some “non-performers” with young guns.

“Some young legislators may find place in the cabinet,” sources in PDP said, adding the senior leaders may be given the party responsibility.

Sources further said Mehbooba is contemplating to give area-wise representation in the cabinet and the list will be given final shape soon.

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