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Mehbooba Mufti rejigs Cabinet, 2 ministers quit

When contacted, Bukhari said, “It was primarily my reshuffle alone. I have resigned and I wrote a detailed letter to the CM giving reasonable reasons.

Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar |
February 18, 2017 3:48:43 am
mehbooba mufti, mehbooba cabinet, mehbooba cabinet reshuffle, jammu kashmir cabinet, jammu kashmir cabinet reshuffle, india news, indian express news, latest news J&K Governor N N Vohra with CM Mehbooba Mufti after the swearing-in ceremony in Jammu on Friday. (Source: PTI Photo)

THE RULING Peoples Democratic Party in J&K was hit by a crisis on Friday when two senior ministers resigned shortly after CM Mehbooba Mufti reshuffled her Cabinet for the first time after forming government last year. Syed Basharat Bukhari, who was Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, resigned after his portfolio was changed. In the reshuffle, Bukhari was assigned Horticulture portfolio, “considered a smaller ministry”. Sources said Bukhari resigned because he saw “this change of portfolio as a clear indication that he wasn’t needed anymore”. Bukhari, who was the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s cabinet, was inducted as Revenue Minister when Mehbooba took over. He was considered close to Mehbooba who had brought him to politics when he ran a popular current affairs programme on Radio Kashmir.

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When contacted, Bukhari said, “It was primarily my reshuffle alone. I have resigned and I wrote a detailed letter to the CM giving reasonable reasons. I have already wound up my office and sent back the official vehicle.” The other resignation came from Sports and Youth Services Minister Imran Raza Ansari, who said that his portfolio was not changed in the reshuffle. His resignation may have serious repercussions for the party as he is PDP’s Shia face and son of former party stalwart Moulana Iftikhar Hussain Ansari. The Ansari family influences five constituencies where Shia population is significant in the Valley and Raza’s resignation will have a bearing on bypolls of Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Raza had shown displeasure “for being given an insignificant ministry” when he was first inducted in Sayeed’s cabinet. “Yes I have resigned. I sent resignation around 4.30 pm and there has been no communication for four or five hours now which means it has been accepted,” he said. He said he has been considering leaving the cabinet since last year. “I have not been able to do anything for my constituency,’’ he said.

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Meanwhile, another Bukhari made an entry after staying out of the Cabinet ever since Mehbooba took over. Altaf Bukhari, who was PWD Minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Cabinet, had been dropped when Mehbooba took over. Sources said he had “literally revolted against Mehbooba for delaying the formation of the government” after senior Mufti’s death in January last year. They said Mehbooba brought back Altaf Bukhari, also an influential businessman, especially because the party did not have a known leader in Srinagar city after MP Tariq Hameed Karra left the party last year. Altaf Bukhari is PDP legislator from Amirakadal constituency in Srinagar city.

Bukhari has replaced party spokesman Nayeem Akhtar as the Education Minister. Akhtar has been given PWD portfolio. Mehbooba took away Culture department from Haseeb Drabu, who has retained Finance, and kept the Culture ministry with herself.

Inputs from New Delhi

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