Mehbooba Mufti to expand Council of Ministers with eye on Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll

Currently, PDP has 12 ministers and BJP has 11 Ministers including, the deputy chief minister.

Published: 16th February 2017 06:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th February 2017 08:07 PM   |  A+A-

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti addresses Legislative council in Srinagar. (File | PTI)

Express News Service

SRINAGAR: With an eye on bypoll of Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will expand her council of ministers tomorrow by inducting one or more minister from her party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Sources said Mehbooba during her meeting with Governor N N Vohra on Tuesday had informed him about her decision to expand the council of ministry by inducting two new ministers from her party.

The oath taking ceremony will be held at Rajbhavan in winter capital tomorrow afternoon and Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office to the newly inducted ministers.

It will be the first expansion of council of ministers of 9-month old Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP coalition government.

Sources said only one party MLA would be inducted in the council of ministers. “Mehooba may induct only one minister tomorrow. She may induct another minister in next cabinet expansion”.

They said PDP MLA from Amira Kadal, Srinagar and former minister Altaf Bukhari is all set to be inducted as a minister again.

Bukhari was Works Minister in Mufti Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government but was dropped by Mehbooba alongwith three other party ministers when she took over as CM of the coalition government on April 4 last year.  Bukhari was reportedly dropped for his proximity with saffron party during over three month of stalemate on government formation between PDP and BJP after Mufti Sayeed’s demise on January 7 last year.

PDP can induct two ministers in the council of ministers to complete its quota of 14 ministers in the coalition government. As per the agreement between the two coalition partners, PDP will be having 14 ministers including Chief Minister while BJP will have 11 ministerial berths.

Under the J&K laws, there can be a maximum of 25 ministers (20 per cent of the total strength of both Houses of Legislature).

Sources said if Mehbooba decides to induct two party ministers tomorrow, then the second one may be PDP legislator from South Kashmir or from Jammu province.

They said due to induction of new minister, there will be change in portfolios of some PDP ministers. “However, portfolios of BJP ministers won’t be changed.” 

Sources said PDP is going for cabinet expansion with an eye on the bypolls of Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in the Valley.

The Valley witnessed massive unrest last year.

Srinagar has always been a strong bastion of separatists and witnessed low percentage of votes during elections.

Srinagar Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after  PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra resigned from the party and parliament seat to protest against government’s handling of situation in Valley during unrest last year.  

The Anantnag parliamentary seat in South Kashmir also fell vacant after Mehbooba resigned from the seat on July 4 last year to contest the Anantnag Assembly bypoll following demise of her father and former CM Mufti Sayeed.

Karra was the face of PDP in Srinagar and is all set to join Congress and contest the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat as Congress candidate.

In order to checkmate him, Mehbooba is inducting Altaf Bukhari in the ministry to keep him in good books so that he can use his influence to woo voters for the PDP.

Bukhari during the recently concluded Budget session of J&K Assembly had spoken against the government and party ministers.

Bukhari wields lot of influence in Srinagar and can prove beneficial for the PDP in check-mating Karra and strengthen party in Srinagar, which has remained stronghold of NC.

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