BJP Ministers Quit, Pave Way For Cabinet Reshuffle

Srinagar—Days after its two lawmakers had to quit, BJP ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti government have sent their resignations to the party to prepare for a reshuffle that has been on the cards for some time.

Sources said the ministers had been told to send across their resignations at meetings held last week by BJP strategist Ram Madhav when he was in Jammu to meet lawmakers after the party’s two ministers had to exit the Mehbooba Mufti government.

The BJP has been under pressure ever since two of its Ministers — Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. The two Ministers subsequently resigned.

The State can have a maximum of 25 Ministers, including the Chief Minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.

According to top State government sources, the reshuffle is likely to take place on April 20. The decision follows hectic parleys between senior BJP leader Avinash Khanna and party legislators, the sources said.

Sources said that while there was no threat to PDP-BJP government, the resignation will allow the party to induct fresh faces and retain previous ones who are already in the government based on their performance.

The development comes mere days after two BJP ministers, who had attended protests in favour of accused in horrific Kathua rape and murder case.

“There is no threaten to government but resignation are being made to pave way for reshuffle,” a senior BJP leader said.

He said the cabinet reshuffle in the BJP became necessary when the PDP inducted Tassaduq Hussain Mufti and Javaid Mustafa Mir as cabinet ministers raising the strength of the party to 12, including Chief Minister, in the state cabinet. The Chief Minister later allotted Tourism portfolio to her brother Tassaduq Mufti while Javaid was assigned Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and Floriculture departments.

Senior PDP Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri was divested of Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation & Reconstruction portfolios while as he retained Revenue and was also given Parliamentary Affairs and Hajj and Auqaf portfolios. In the process, Syed Farooq Andrabi tendered his resignation from the ministry of Hajj & Auqaf. Later Haseeb Drabu was made to resign as finance minister.

At the same time, the BJP has only six including Deputy Chief Minister as cabinet ministers even as portfolios held by Chandar Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh were assigned to Dr Nirmal Singh.

The PDP has 2 MoS while the BJP has three. To ensure balance in the cabinet, the BJP was likely to upgrade one of its MoS as the cabinet minister, sources said.

The incumbent PDP ministers include Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Abdul Haq Khan, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, Naeem Akhtar, Imran Raza Ansari, Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Tassaduq Hussain Mufti, Asiea Naqash and Zahoor Ahmad Mir. Naqash and Mir are MoS. The BJP has deputy chief minister Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, Bali Bhagat, Sajad Gani Lone, Chering Dorjay, Sham Lal Chaudhary, Abdul Ghani Kohli, Sunil Kumar Sharma (MoS), Priya Sethi (MoS), and Ajay Nanda (MoS).

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