Cong to reshuffle its ministers

Party To Fill Vacant Berths, Reallocate Portfolios; Azad, Soz Close Ranks

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Jan 9: The coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir is all set to witness first reshuffle in the Omar Abdullah-led state cabinet in coming days with Congress deciding to induct new faces in the council of ministers while affecting major reshuffle in the portfolios of existing ministers.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the NC’s coalition partner in the state government Congress is working on “reshuffling” its ministers in the government and may even drop some of them to make place for new entrants.
“There will be major changes in the council of ministers from the Congress side,” sources said.
They said the Congress high command has cleared many names including that of GM Saroori, a former R&B minister and loyalist of Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for induction in the cabinet. Saroori had to resign from the council of ministers following surfacing of impersonation case involving his daughter.
Names of other Congress legislators doing rounds for induction in the cabinet include former minister GA Mir, MLC Bashir Ahmad Magray, MLA Doda Abdul Majid Wani and MLA Banihal Viqar Rasool.
“Things will be clear in a couple of days,” Congress sources said.
According to highly placed sources, while the warring factions of the state Congress led by PCC chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz and Azad have closed their ranks, apparently in view of the anti-Delhi tirade launched by NC ideologues Sheikh Nazir and Dr Mustafa Kamaal, “some other” political compulsions have also forced Azad-Soz duo to make peace with each other.
Both Azad and Soz, according to sources, met at latter’s residence in Srinagar recently to hammer out the differences between them and formulate a workable joint strategy. The duo also held extended deliberations with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi recently on the issues pertaining to the state Congress including induction of new faces in the state cabinet, sources said.
While Soz is camping in New Delhi for past few days, many senior Congress leaders from the state including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Saroori, Minister for Medical Education RS Chib, former Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, legislators Abdul Majid Wani and Viqar Rasool today rushed to New Delhi to meet the high command in view of the possible cabinet reshuffle.
The total strength of the state cabinet is 25. While Congress had to surrender a berth in the cabinet after resignation by Saroori and it also lost education portfolio over examination scandal involving foster son of former Congress leader and Minister for School Education, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed. Both the portfolios are presently held by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
According to sources, sensing possible change in their portfolios, several Congress ministers today issued marching orders to their field departments asking them to prepare various projects for inauguration during the next couple of days.
As per the present strength of the council of ministers while Congress has two berths vacant from its share, NC has one ministerial vacancy.
Sources said the Chief Minister who is presently holding the additional portfolios of R&B and School Education, has already conveyed to the Congress that he was ready for any change in the cabinet from their (Congress) side.
Sources said the Chief Minister has communicated to the Congress that let it decide on the reshuffle from their side in the cabinet, he would approach the Governor with the proposal.
The coalition government was formed by National Conference, which won 28 seats, and the Congress, which won 17 seats, in the 87-member state legislature in January 2009 after state elections in December 2008.
Four members from National Conference and five members from the Congress were inducted into the cabinet on January 5.
Later on July 11, 2009 Omar expanded his cabinet by inducting 13 new ministers, taking the total strength of the National Conference-Congress coalition ministry from 11 to 21.
On January 5 the NC-Congress completed its four years of alliance in the J&K.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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