Reshuffle in Council of Ministry on Apr 30, BJP to induct new faces

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 28: Much awaited reshuffle of BJP Ministers in the Council of Ministry headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will take place on April 30 here at Jammu Convention Centre as BJP national president Amit Shah in consultations with party general secretary, Ram Madhav, party’s pointman on Jammu and Kashmir, would give final touch to the names of Ministers to be included and excluded tomorrow though both of them met today also.
Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was tonight called to New Delhi by Madhav for consultations before finalizing the list, which would be submitted to the Raj Bhawan either tomorrow evening or on Monday morning.
The reshuffle has been scheduled for 12 noon at Jammu Convention Centre, Canal Road on Monday, official sources told the Excelsior.
They said a senior national BJP leader spoke to Governor NN Vohra today and sought time for administering oath of office and secrecy to the new Ministers as the Civil Secretariat and Raj Bhavan offices had closed here yesterday for bi-annual Durbar Move to Srinagar, the summer capital of the State. It was in view of closure of Raj Bhavan offices that venue of the oath ceremony has been shifted to Jammu Convention Centre instead of Raj Bhavan.
The Governor conveyed his availability for the oath ceremony at 12 noon on April 30, sources said, adding that date and timing have been finalized.
The move to advance oath ceremony from scheduled re-opening of Civil Secretariat on May 7, followed talks Ram Madhav had in the Union capital with Amit Shah today in which it was decided to carry out the reshuffle at the earliest.
BJP sources said names of some probable were discussed during Shah-Madhav meeting,
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was tonight called to New Delhi by Madhav and both of them were likely to meet Amit Shah tomorrow to give final touch to the names of the Ministers to be inducted in the Council of Ministry and those, who would be dropped.
Madhav and Nirmal Singh were expected to reach Jammu on Sunday evening or Monday morning with the list, which would be forwarded to the Governor.
BJP sources indicated that in addition to filling up of two vacancies of the BJP, the party was likely to induct some more new faces in the Council of Ministry by dropping others. The two vacancies in the BJP quota had arisen due to resignations of Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh and Industry and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga early this month following support extended by them to the people of Rassana for demanding CBI probe into the rape and murder of minor Bakerwal girl.
While two vacancies in the Cabinet already existed, sources said the BJP could drop few more Ministers and induct new faces in their place.
Sources said a number of names have been discussed by the BJP high command for inclusion and exclusion from the Ministry but a final call was likely to be taken tomorrow.
Some of the BJP Ministers and legislators were also likely to visit New Delhi tomorrow for lobbying. The Ministers, who were being dropped, could lobby for continuance while the MLAs would take up their cause for inclusion in the Ministry.
The BJP has already taken resignations of its all sitting Ministers excepting Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, who also happens to be the BJP Legislature Party Leader. Resignations of the Ministers, who will be dropped, will be forwarded to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for acceptance while others will be rejected.
The BJP could give representation to some of the unrepresented districts in the Cabinet including Doda and Samba besides additional representation to already represented districts in Jammu region. Possibility of elevation of one or two Ministers of State to the Cabinet rank is also not ruled out.
However, sources confirmed that Monday’s reshuffle will be confined to the BJP only while its Alliance partner, the PDP was in no mood to fill its lone vacancy. However, the PDP could also reshuffle portfolios of its Ministers along with the BJP.
Presently, there were 22 Ministers in the State including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as against maximum prescribed strength of 25. Of three vacancies, two belonged to BJP and one to PDP. The PDP vacancy had arisen due to unceremonious evit of Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu due to his remarks on Kashmir situation.
As per the PDP-BJP agreement, PDP can have 14 Ministers and BJP 11. Presently PDP has 13 and BJP eight. Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone belonged to the People’s Conference, a BJP ally.