Hectic lobbying for Ministerial berths
JAMMU, Apr 23: BJP president Amit Shah is likely to take a final call tomorrow on reshuffle among the party Ministers in PDP-BJP Coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir after his return from Karnataka, where he is busy with election campaigning for the Assembly elections.
The BJP’s high-level meeting scheduled for New Delhi today was deferred for tomorrow as BJP national general secretary, Ram Madhav, party’s pointman on Jammu and Kashmir, couldn’t reach the Union capital today. He was likely to reach New Delhi tonight and his meeting with selected party leaders from Jammu and Kashmir is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, insiders in the BJP told the Excelsior.
They said Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, State BJP president Sat Sharma ‘CA’ and party’s organizing secretary, Ashok Koul reached the Union capital today for the scheduled meeting, which was to be attended by Ram Madhav, Union Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr Jitendra Singh and Avinash Rai Khanna. However, due to delay in arrival of Madhav from abroad, the meeting was deferred to tomorrow. Madhav would now reach New Delhi tonight.
Dr Jitendra Singh, who was scheduled to visit Udhampur tomorrow to attend Panchayat Diwas function, has been asked by the BJP high command to stay in Delhi for the crucial meeting. He would now visit Udhampur on Wednesday.
Similarly, the BJP insiders said, the party’s national president Amit Shah was also in Karnataka and was likely to return to the Union capital tomorrow morning.
After the BJP leaders, both national and State level, finalize the names of those to be excluded and included in the Cabinet, the list will go to Shah, who will take final call on the reshuffle.
A number of BJP Ministers and legislators including both MLAs and MLCs have been camping in New Delhi and in the absence of Ram Madhav, a number of them met another BJP general secretary (organizations) Ram Lal in the capital lobbying for inclusion in the Council of Ministry, whose reshuffle has become imminent after the resignations of Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh and Industry and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga from the Cabinet for extending support to the people of Rassana for CBI inquiry demand in rape-cum-murder of minor Bakerwal girl.
Even Ganga has reached New Delhi and was reportedly lobbying for inclusion in the Ministry again on the ground that he was not at fault for supporting the demand of Rassana people for CBI probe as majority of party Ministers and leaders were in favour of such a demand and had openly voiced their support as well.
However, sources said, there was virtually no possibility of re-induction of Ganga and Lal Singh in the Council of Ministry and they would be replaced by the new faces.
The charge of Forest and Industry & Commerce Ministries has been given to Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh.
Insiders said the BJP could drop two to three more Ministers and induct a total of four to five new faces in the Council of Ministry. Barring Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, the BJP has obtained resignations of all its Ministers and would forward only those for acceptance to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who are to be dropped while rest will be rejected.
With the resignations, strength of the Council of Ministry has come down to 22, leading to three vacancies including two from the quota of BJP and one from the PDP. The BJP’s strength has come down to nine in the quota of 11 Ministers. The PDP has quota of 14 Ministers but its present strength is 13.
The BJP will go to tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting with strength of just five Ministers as against PDP’s 11. BJP has seven Cabinet Ministers and two of them have already resigned. Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone of People’s Conference is also a Cabinet Minister from the BJP quota.