Ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle tomorrow, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh tonight tendered his resignation to pave the way for state Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta to take over the post in the PDP-BJP government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. BJP’s state unit chief Sat Sharma, MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal are among the BJP faces who will be inducted into the state government as Cabinet ministers, officials said.
“I have resigned from the post to pave the way for a new deputy chief minister in the state,” Singh told PTI. The PDP will have Mohd Khalil Band, MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, MLA from Sonwar, as Cabinet ministers, while the BJP will upgrade Sunil Sharma, at present Minister of State for Transport, to the rank of a Cabinet minister, the officials said. BJP MLA from Doda Shakti Raj will also be sworn in as Minister of State tomorrow at the oath-taking ceremony, which will be attended by senior BJP leaders, including national general secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh, they said.
Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Convention Centre at 12 noon. The officials said the function is being held at the Convention Centre instead of the Raj Bhavan as the Jammu and Kashmir government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar as part of the bi-annual darbar move. The saffron party had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the PDP-BJP government in the state to submit their resignations to enable bringing in new faces in the two-year-old Mehbooba Mufti government.
The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor. Two BJP ministers — Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — who took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, had to resign from the government earlier this month. 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.