Upset over ‘low-key’ portfolios, Sajad Lone refuses to join Mufti’s cabinet

Jammu: Sajad Lone of the Peoples Conference (PC) on Wednesday refused to join the council of ministers in the PDP-BJP government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as he is upset over the portfolio allocated to him.
Lone was miffed over allocation of Science and Technology/Animal Husbandry portfolios to him on Tuesday. “Lone considered the newly assigned portfolios lower to his dignity and has decided against joining the office,” a senior PC leader said.
He said Lone did not attend his office in winter capital Jammu on Wednesday and instead chose to fly back to the Valley.
At the airport, his ministry had sent in an official car and security which was declined by him and he rushed to his Rawalpora residence, on the outskirts of Srinagar city, and remained inside his house with both his mobile phones switched off.
“Yes, he has refused to join the council of ministers. He has also surrendered all entitlements including security, official vehicle and other perks given to him as a cabinet minister,” said PC legislator from Kupwara, Bashir Ahmed Dar.
“Our supporters are unhappy and annoyed and they have been continuously advising Lone not to assume the charge,” Dar told a local news agency.
Lone had extended support to the BJP. He was sworn in as a cabinet minister on Sunday last as a BJP nominee in the council of ministers headed by Mufti. A day before the swearing-in ceremony, Lone was reluctant to come to Jammu. He was reportedly motivated by top brass of BJP to attend the ceremony.
Lone was given charge of Science and Technology and Animal Husbandry portfolio. While PDP has distanced itself from this development, saying it was an issue between BJP and PC and “we have nothing to say”, BJP spokesman and vice-president of the state unit Ramesh Arora said, “We will be able to say anything after we speak to Lone.”—With agency inputs