Senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Syed Altaf Bukhari is all set to make comeback in the State Government, as the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti would expand her council of ministers on Friday.
This would be the first expansion of the ministerial team led by Mehbooba, which took oath in April 2016. The oath ceremony would take place at Raj Bhavan in Jammu tomorrow afternoon.
Bukhari, who is PDP’s Srinagar face and represents Amirakadal constituency from Srinagar, was Works Minister in the previous PDP-BJP Government led by former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. However, he along with another former cabinet minister Javed Mustafa Mir, and two junior ministers Muhammad Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majid Padder were dropped by Mehbooba after she took over as the Chief Minister.
The induction of Bukhari into the council of ministers is also seen as a move by the PDP to strengthen its base in Srinagar ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls and also to give representation to Srinagar in the Government.
At present the total strength of the council of ministers, including the Chief Minister, is 23. There are eight cabinet ministers each from PDP and BJP and three junior ministers each from the alliance partners. This number (23) is two short of the maximum strength of council of ministers in J&K (25), permissible under the law.
The induction of Bukhari is likely to result in change of portfolios of some ministers from the PDP. On the other hand, the PDP’s alliance partner BJP would however neither make any change in its present team of the ministers in the government nor is the party going to change any portfolio held by its ministers. The Chief Minister had met the Governor NN Vohra on Wednesday to discuss expansion of her council of ministers.