Speaker, seven others sworn in as ministers in J&K

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta and seven others were today sworn in as ministers in the state's PDP-BJP government led by Mehbooba Mufti.

Gupta will be the new deputy chief minister in place of Nirmal Singh, who submitted his resignation last night, officials said.

The reshuffle is the result of BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga resigning from the cabinet earlier this month after they were criticised for taking part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

The new BJP faces sworn in as ministers were the party's state unit chief Satpal Sharma and the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, respectively.

The BJP also upgraded Sunil Sharma, at present minister of state for transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP legislator Shakti Raj took oath as a minister of state.

The PDP members included in the cabinet were Mohd Khalil Band, MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, MLA from Sonwar.

The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and Minister of State (MoS) for Tourism Priya Sethi.

Their resignations have been accepted along with that of Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan by Governor N N Vohra, an official said, adding that Sunil Sharma, who was upgraded as cabinet minister, also resigned as MoS.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav attended the event.

The oath of office and secrecy was administered by the governor at the convention centre instead of the Raj Bhavan as the state government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar, part of the bi-annual darbar move under which the government functions for six months in Jammu and six months in Srinagar.

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 Mufti cabinet.

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.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

 

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PTI