April 5, 2016 12:18:19 am
Mehbooba Mufti, 56, made history on Monday as she took oath as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir at the Raj Bhavan here.
Besides Mehbooba, 22 other ministers were sworn-in by Governor N N Vohra, bringing to an end the three-month President’s Rule in the state.
BJP’s Dr Nirmal Singh, who was Deputy CM in late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s government, will continue in that position. His party increased its strength with eight Cabinet-rank ministers, two more over its share in the Mufti government.
PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra and Opposition Congress boycotted the ceremony.
Among those present were rival National Conference patron and former Union minister Farooq Abdullah, his son and former CM Omar Abdullah, Union Urban Development and Parliamentary Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur and Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh. BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna were also present at the swearing-in function, kept a low-key affair reportedly at the instance of Mehbooba.
Mehbooba’s ministry has 12 PDP ministers — nine of Cabinet rank, including the CM, and three Ministers of State (MoS), two less than its strength in Mufti’s Cabinet. The BJP has maintained its ministerial strength: besides the eight Cabinet ministers, the party has three MoS.
PDP ministers dropped this time include Altaf Bukhari, Javed Musatafa Mir, both of whom had Cabinet rank in Mufti’s administration, besides MoS Abdul Majid Paddar and Ashraf Mir. In their place, Mehbooba has inducted new faces as MoS ? Syed Farooq Andrabi, the MLA from Dooru and her uncle; and Zahoor Ahmed Mir.
The new faces from the BJP are Sham Choudhary, who has replaced former Cabinet minister Sukhnandan Choudhary, and Ajay Nanda in place of former MoS Pawan Gupta Mehbooba, a Lok Sabha MP from Anantnag, will now have to become a member of either the Assembly or the Legislative Council within six months. Sources said she is likely to contest the by-election from Anantnag Assembly constituency, which has fallen vacant with Mufti Sayeed’s death on January 7. By-election for both Anantnag Assembly and Lok Sabha seats are likely to be held together.
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