The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday expended the state cabinet.
Eight new faces -- six from the BJP and two from the PDP -- took oath as Minister of State, with Kavinder Gupta replacing Nirmal Singh as the Deputy Chief Minister after the latter tendered his resignation on Sunday.
The BJP had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the state government to submit their resignations to enable the party.
J&K Governor N N Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to those being inducted into the council of ministers at the convention centre.
Ahead of the reshuffle, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh resigned on Sunday. The post will be filled by Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta.
Singh said, "I have resigned as the Deputy Chief Minister of the government. A fresh face from the BJP will be taking over."
As it happened:
Jammu: BJP Kathua MLA Rajeev Jasrotia(left pic) and PDP Pulwama MLA Mohammad Khalil Bandh(right pic) take oath as ministers in Jammu and Kashmir Government. #cabinetreshuffle pic.twitter.com/J114PPhqK9— ANI (@ANI) April 30, 2018
12:15 pm: The PDP will have Mohd Khalil Band, an MLA from Pulwama, and Mohd Ashraf Mir, an 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.
12:14 pm: While the BJP is inducting six MLAs as ministers, the PDP is inducting two legislators in keeping with its quota. BJP's state unit chief Sat Sharma, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Samba respectively, are among the BJP faces who will be inducted into the state government as Cabinet ministers, officials said.
12:09 pm: The cabinet reshuffle has nothing to do with the Kathua incident. Our government has completed three years and we decided to give a chance to new faces. 5 members of the party will be sworn-in as ministers today: BJP's Ram Madhav
Jammu: Gandhinagar MLA Kavinder Gupta takes oath as minister in Jammu and Kashmir Government. He replaces Dr.Nirmal Singh as Deputy Chief Minister of the State pic.twitter.com/8eHsu2by9h— ANI (@ANI) April 30, 2018
10:04 pm: Eight new ministers -- 6 from BJP and 2 from PDP -- take oath.
Jammu & Kashmir cabinet re-shuffle: Kavinder Gupta to be sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister and Mohd Khalil Band, Sat Paul Sharma, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Sunil Kumar Sharma, Rajiv Jasrotia, Devinder Kumar Manyal and Shakti Raj to be sworn-in as ministers for the state.— ANI (@ANI) April 30, 2018
06:50 am: It was the decision of the party to change roles. Keeping in line with that decision I stepped down. The govt has worked well for three years. I am sure they will perform very well: Nirmal Singh
06:45 am: BJP’s state unit chief, Sat Sharma, and the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha --- Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal --- are among the BJP leaders who will be inducted into the state government as cabinet ministers on Monday, officials told PTI.
06:40 am: The BJP will elevate Sunil Sharma, at present the minister of state for transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister, the officials said, adding the ruling Peoples Democratic Party will have Pulwama MLA Mohd Khalil Band and Sonwar MLA Mohd Ashraf Mir as cabinet ministers.
06:35 am: Shakti Raj, the BJP MLA from Doda, will be sworn in as a minister of state 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, PTI reported.
Officials said the function is being held at the convention centre instead of Raj Bhavan as Jammu and Kashmir government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar as part of the bi-annual 'darbar move', under which the government functions six months each in the twin capital cities.
The Civil Secretariat, the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government, and Raj Bhavan closed here on Friday and will reopen along with other move offices in Srinagar on May 7.
Speculation was rife that PDP ally BJP, besides filling up two vacancies, is likely to induct some new faces in the council of ministers by dropping others. A senior BJP leader said was with BJP president Amit Shah who would hand it over to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh who was in Delhi.
"We have no specific number of those who are being inducted into the cabinet or dropped from the cabinet. BJP national president Amit Shah and party general secretary Ram Madhav have the list which will be handed over to Singh either tonight or tomorrow morning," the BJP leader said.
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 cabinet.
The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor.
The BJP had 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.
There is high possibility that one or two ministers of state (MoS) could be elevated to the Cabinet rank, keeping in view their good performance, sources said.
It was not immediately known whether the PDP will also fill up the vacancy caused by the sacking of Haseeb Drabu as Finance Minister last month. Currently, the BJP has six cabinet ministers, including associate member Sajad Lone, and three minister of state in the J&K government.
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.