SRINAGAR: The BJP’s state unit is abuzz with talk of its five ministers being shown the door, particularly Forest Minister Lal Singh and Health Minister Bali Baghat, while Speaker of the Assembly Kavinder Gupta and state unit president Sat Sharma, who is also a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), could be elevated to cabinet positions. It is being said that Gupta and Sharma have been asking for the post of deputy chief minister, currently occupied by Nirmal Singh, but may settle for cabinet berths. Two new faces – Ajay Bharti and Rajiv Jasrotia – may be inducted into the cabinet, room for which is likely to be made by removing the three other BJP ministers – Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister Sham Lal, and Minister of State (MoS) Sunil Kumar Sharma.
These speculations have been warranted by the upcoming visit of party general secretary Ram Madhav to Jammu and Kashmir. It is learnt that after the president of the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry complained to Indian home minister Rajnath Singh that the performance of the five BJP ministers was not up to the mark, the home minister deputed Ram Madhav and senior party functionary Ram Lal to “review” the performance of these five minsters. Ram Lal visited the state last week, and Madhav is arriving in Jammu on Thursday. He will reach Srinagar on Friday and meet Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The reshuffle has been on the cards ever since Rajnath Singh’s visit to Jammu last week. A top functionary of the BJP’s state unit, who is privy to the developments, told Kashmir Reader that Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta and state party president Sat Sharma have been trying their level best, for a while now, to get the post of deputy chief minister.
“Gupta ji and Sat Sharma have been asking for the deputy chief minister’s post for a long time. Gupta ji has even asked for that post to be made a ministerial one. Sharma has done the same,” the party source said. “If they fail to convince Madhav ji, they will be given a ministerial position. There are more chances for Sharma to get a minister’s position, if not the one he desires. They are the top contenders for ministerial berths in the party.”
The party functionary said that Ajay Bharti and Rajiv Jasrotia have been in discussion to be introduced as ministers for a long time. And, he said, five ministers, particularly Lal Singh and Bali Baghat, may be dropped. The other minsters may have to go, too.
“Questions about their performance have been asked for a long time. There are very high chances that heads may roll now. However, the final decision lies with the central leadership,” he added.