Srinagar: Mehbooba Mufti will take oath as the thirteenth chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir at a simple ceremony at Jammu Raj Bhawan.
The 56-year-old daughter of former CM Mufti Muhammad Sayeed will be the first woman chief minister of the state. Her oath-taking would end the nearly three-month-long governor’s rule imposed in the state a day after Mufti Sayeed’s death on January 7.
Mehbooba left for Jammu on Sunday afternoon to take oath along with her council of ministers. The coalition partners have not revealed the names of ministers but it is believed that a few new faces will be introduced in the new council.
The two parties held parleys on Sunday night to finalise the ministers. Media reports had suggested that the two parties had differences over the share in the ministry, with BJP seeking an equal share.
While Altaf Bukhari is the prominent face believed to lose the berth from the PDP side, the BJP is likely to drop its only Muslim face Abdul Gani Kohli, who had been inducted in the previous stint of the PDP-BJP alliance.
Sources said that Mehbooba has invited 20 top Indian women including four women chief ministers Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Anandi Ben Patel (Gujarat) and Vasundhara Raje Scindia (Rajasthan) besides ace tennis player Sania Mirza.
Mehbooba had on Saturday called Omar Abdullah to invite him to the ceremony. Omar appreciated the gesture and tweeted, “Very gracious of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba to phone & invite me to her oath taking ceremony. I look forward to being there on the 4th.” Omar and his father Dr Farooq Abdullah reached Jammu to be part of the ceremony.
The sate unit of the Congress party will not attend the swearing-in ceremony. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, JKPCC chief GA Mir and Congress MLAs have been invited for the ceremony, but JKPCC chief spokesman Ravinder Sharma said the party will boycott it to “protest the undemocratic ways of destabilising Congress governments in some states.”
“BJP and its central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used undemocratic ways to destabilize democratically elected Congress governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” Sharma told KNS.
“PDP and BJP formed an unholy alliance in the state even though the two parties contested Assembly elections against each other by projecting different ideologies and manifestos, but later entered into an alliance,” the Congress leader said.
Sources said that employees of the estates department were busy for the entire day sprucing up the Chief Minister’s official residence in the winter capital. However, since the ministers in the previous government had not vacated their official residences, despite notices by governor administration, the estates employees were spared the effort of refurbishing their residences too.
Sources said the media persons had been issued car passes but later in the evening they were asked to board a bus in the morning to reach the venue. The Out Broadcasting (OB) vans will not be allowed into the venue, sources said.
BJP’s top leaders, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiya Naidu and MoS in PMO Dr Jatender Singh, are already in Jammu for the oath ceremony.
Sources said that BJP is likely to introduce some new faces in the council of ministers. The list of new probables includes Akhnoor legislator Rajiv Sharmaand and RS Pura legislator Sham Singh Chowdhary.