‘Much-awaited cabinet reshuffle today’

‘Much-awaited cabinet reshuffle today’
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JAMMU: All arrangements have been put in place for the much-awaited reshuffle in the Mehbooba Mufti led Jammu and Kashmir government which would take place here today with the BJP expected to bring in some new faces.
Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office and secrecy to those being inducted into the council of ministers at the convention centre at 12 noon, an invitation for the ceremony read.
Officials said the function is being held at the convention centre instead of Raj Bhavan as Jammu and Kashmir government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar as part of the bi-annual ‘darbar move’, under which the government functions six months each in the twin capital cities.
The Civil Secretariat, the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government, and Raj Bhavan closed here on Friday and will reopen along with other move offices in Srinagar on May 7.
Speculation was rife that PDP ally BJP, besides filling up two vacancies, is likely to induct some new faces in the council of ministers by dropping others. A senior BJP leader said he was with BJP president Amit Shah who would hand it over to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh who was in Delhi.
We have no specific number of those who are being inducted into the cabinet or dropped from the cabinet. BJP national president Amit Shah and party general secretary Ram Madhav have the list which will be handed over to Singh, the BJP leader said.
The saffron party had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the PDP-BJP government in the state to submit their resignations to enable bringing in new faces in the two-year-old Mehbooba Mufti cabinet.
The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor.
The BJP had been under pressure ever since two of its ministers — Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga — took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. The two ministers subsequently resigned.
There is high possibility that one or two ministers of state (MoS) could be elevated to the Cabinet rank, keeping in view their good performance, sources said.
It was not immediately known whether the PDP will also fill up the vacancy caused by the sacking of Haseeb Drabu as Finance Minister last month. Currently, the BJP has six cabinet ministers, including associate member Sajad Lone, and three minister of state in the J&K government.
The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.
Meanwhile, an official spokesperson said state Chief Secretary B B Vyas on Sunday chaired a meeting at convention centre to finalise the arrangements for the oath taking ceremony.
Later, he also took a round of the premises to oversee the preparations being made for the successful conduct of the ceremony.
Arrangements related to seating capacity, security, traffic regulation, public address system, sanitation, decoration, power supply and drinking water supply were discussed, the spokesperson said.
He said Vyas directed the security agencies to ensure fool proof security in and around the venue.

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