At Dinner Meet Omar Indicates Comprehensive Changes Of Party Functionaries, Council Of Ministers


Jammu, Jan 14: The much-awaited reshuffle of the council of ministers in four-year-old Omar Abdullah led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir will be carried out tomorrow with some new faces both from National Conference (NC) and Congress expected to get ministerial berths.
Almost all NC ministers, advisors and heads of advisory boards Monday submitted their resignation to the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in order to pave the way for expansion-cum-reshuffle in the council of ministers.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that almost all the ministers, advisors and vice-chairmen of advisory boards dropped their resignations, Monday morning, at the Chief Minister’s secretariat though Omar Abdullah himself was not present in the office.
“We have submitted our resignation to the Chief Minister and will take up any responsibility the party want us to undertake”, a senior NC leader and cabinet minister, preferring not to be named, said. He added that the party leaders were of “firm belief” that organizational responsibilities will be “carried out with dedication”.
The government functionaries from NC who tendered their resignation today include Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Law Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar, Forest Minister Mian Altaf, Animal Husbandry Minister Aga Syed Ruhullah, Higher Education Minister Abdul Gani Malik, Industries Minister SS Salathia, Social Welfare Minister Sakeena Itoo, CAPD Minister Qamar Ali Akhoon, MOS Home Nasir Aslam Wani, MOS R&B Javaid Ahmad Dar, Political Advisor to CM Devender Singh Rana, Advisor to CM Mubark Gul and chairpersons of boards Syed Mushtaq Ahmad Bukhari, Shamima Firdous and Rachpal Singh.
The day-long exercise and uncertainty in NC camp was followed by the “dinner meeting” convened by Omar Abdullah at his official residence here this evening. Sources said that only ministers, advisors and heads of advisory boards of the party were invited, while the legislators were kept away.
Sources said that addressing the party colleagues in the meeting, Omar Abdullah said that the reshuffle will be one of the steps towards “gearing up for the 2014 political battles” that include Parliamentary and Assembly polls.
“We are making comprehensive changes both in the council of ministers as well as the party to prepare for big political battles in 2014”, Omar is learnt to have told the meeting.
He was further quoted as saying, “We will bring some new faces in the cabinet and assign party responsibilities to others to firm-up both the government and the party.”
The ruling coalition partners – NC and Congress - remained tight-lipped about the possible changes in the council of ministers with both the parties preferring to keep the “cards close to the chest”.
Congress sources said the party cleared its list last week during a meeting Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and state Congress Chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz had with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 10-Janpath.
It is certain that three new faces, including two from erstwhile Doda district, and one from Valley will be inducted in the cabinet from Congress quota, sources in the party claimed adding the list has already been handed-over the Chief Minister alongwith the portfolios “suggested” by Congress high command.
It was also learnt that Congress will be changing portfolios of some of its sitting ministers in order to “give a feel change” in run-up to the general elections.
The reshuffle will be the first after the 23-member Omar Abdullah government was sworn in on January 5, 2009.
Omar was in continuous touch with NC president and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah about the selection of new ministers from the party, sources said.
In the Congress circles, the names that were doing rounds include two legislators from Chenab Valley and another from Anantnag district of Kashmir. There was uncertainty about the fate of Minister for Medical Education RS Chib, whose term as MLC ends in March.
Number of Congress legislators and ministers, who were reportedly roaming in New Delhi to get the last minute favors returned to the winter capital today. However, Minister for Medical Education RS Chib was still in New Delhi and was expected to return tomorrow morning.
Interestingly, the civil secretariat wore a deserted look today as almost all the ministers, except for Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, were absent from their offices.
According to sources, most of the ministers had affected massive transfers besides taking some crucial decisions including bestowing favours on their blue-eyed boys in run-up to the reshuffle of the council of ministers.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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