- PDP patron takes over as new CM of JK; BJP’s Nirmal Singh to be his deputy
- Sajjad Lone sworn-in as cabinet minister from the BJP quota
- NC boycotts ceremony
Jammu: PDP veteran Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was on Sunday sworn-in as 12th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir heading a coalition with BJP, marking the maiden entry of the Hindu nationalist party in the state government.
79-year-old Mufti, who returns as Chief Minister after a gap of over nine years, was administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor N N Vohra along with 24 ministers including separatist-turned-politician Sajjad Lone who was accommodated from the BJP quota.
Nirmal Singh of BJP, who will be the new Deputy Chief Minister of the state, was second after Mufti to take oath.
This is the first time that BJP will be part of the government in the only Muslim-majority state of the country.
Ending 49 days of Governor’s rule in the state, the swearing-in ceremony, was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wished Mufti and his team, saying “PDP-BJP govt is a historic opportunity to fulfil the aspirations of the people of J&K and take the State to new heights of progress.”
Others present included senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, party president Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Madhav.
In all, 13 MLAs including Mufti from the PDP and 12 MLAs from BJP and Peoples Conference combine were sworn-in as ministers.
The ceremony was boycotted by National Conference and majority of Congress leaders and MLAs. However, Congress state unit chief Saif-ud-din Soz, who is speculated to be on his way out, attended the function held at Zorawar auditorium of Jammu University.
After the ceremony, Mufti and Singh jointly addressed a press conference where they released the 16-page “Agenda of the Alliance” in which both parties agreed to maintain status quo on Article 370.
Asked at the press conference whether he was dissasisfied as no agreement was reached on scrapping of AFSPA, Mufti said, “I am not at all disappointed. I am, as the Chief Minister, the Chairman of United Command (UHQ). I will make them accountable. Mujhe maloom hai kaise mahaul ko banana hai (I know how to create the situation).”
Mufti’s swearing-in as the 12th Chief Minister brought an end to 49 days of Governor’s rule imposed on the state since the resignation of Omar Abdullah as chief minister after being voted out of power last December.
It also marked Mufti’s return to the top post after nearly a decade since having led a PDP-Congress coalition government for three years from January 2002.
Among others who took oath as Ministers were Abdul Rehman Veeri, Haseeb Drabu, Naeem Akhtar, Basharat Bukhari (all PDP), Lal Singh, Chander Prakash, Sukhnandan Chowdhury and Bali Bhagat (BJP). Priya Sethi (BJP) and Aasiya Naqqash (PDP) were the two women legislators taking oath as Ministers. Lal Singh, who switched sides from Congress to the BJP just before the elections, took oath in Dogri language.
The cabinet saw entry of Sajjad Lone being sworn-in as the cabinet minister from the BJP quota. After the swearing-in, he received a tight-hug from the Prime Minister.
PDP legislator Haseeb Drabu, who was the chief negotiator from the party in formulating a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), was welcomed by the Prime Minister with all hugs and smiles for making the alliance possible. (with agency inputs)