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J&K reshuffle: eight ministers to take oath, speaker Kavinder Gupta is new Dy Cm

Political News, Nation, (Jammu), April 30:-Eight legislators will be inducted as ministers of the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir today.

Of the eight, seven are expected to be new faces, officials said.

Ahead of the reshuffle of the council of ministers, Nirmal Singh tendered his resignation from the post of deputy chief minister last night, paving the way for state Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta to take over the position in the government.

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.

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, the officials said.

BJP MLA from Doda Shakti Raj will also be sworn in as a Minister of State at the oath-taking ceremony, which will be attended by senior BJP leaders, including its national general secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh, they said.

The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and MoS Priya Sethi. Nirmal Singh is likely to be new speaker.

Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Convention Centre.

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.

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 government.

The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor.

Two BJP ministers — Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — who took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, had to resign from the government earlier this month.

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.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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