Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta and seven others 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.
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.
BJP 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.
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.