Kathua MLA among BJP’s 5 new ministers, PDP also adds two new faces: MLAs of Pulwama and Sonawar
Jammu: 58-year-old Kavinder Gupta, until now the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, took charge as Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. Gupta became part of the RSS at age 13 and has served as Mayor of Jammu for three consecutive terms from 2005 to 2010. He was elected as an MLA for the first time in 2014 from Gandhi Nagar constituency. He spent 13 months in jail during the 1975-77 Emergency declared by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Gupta was among eight new ministers in the PDP-BJP coalition government who were sworn in by Governor NN Vohra at the Convention Centre in Jammu. The BJP’s J&K president Sat Sharma, MLA from Kathua Rajiv Jasrotia, and MLA from Sambha Devinder Kumar Manyal were inducted as cabinet ministers. The BJP upgraded Sunil Sharma, at present Minister of State (MoS) for Transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP legislator Shakti Raj took oath as a minister of state.
From the PDP, Pulwama MLA Mohammed Khalil Band and Sonawar MLA Mohammed Ashraf Mir took oath as cabinet ministers.
Of the eight, seven are first-time ministers. Seven of the eight are cabinet ministers.
Kavinder Gupta, Sat Paul Sharma and Sunil Sharma took their oath in Hindi. Mir, Jasrotia, Manyal and Shakti Raj took their oath in English. Band took his oath in Urdu.
Slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” were heard from the audience as Sat Paul Sharma and Shakti Raj took their oath of office.
The BJP dropped Nirmal Singh from the Deputy CM’s position but he is likely to be the new Speaker of the state assembly. Health Minister Bali Bhagat and Minister of State Priya Sethi, the lone woman among the BJP’s ministers, were removed.
After taking oath, Gupta told reporters at the Convention Centre, “The party has given me the task. I will work with dedication for the people and the state and ensure that the demands and aspirations of the people are fulfilled.”
Gupta said his priority will be to ensure that the three regions of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh get justice and equal development.
Born December 2, 1959, Gupta is a chartered accountant by profession. He has three children, including two daughters. He was secretary of the Punjab Vishva Hindu Parishad in 1978-79. He headed the J&K unit of the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, for two consecutive terms from 1993 till 1998. He has also been a general secretary of the BJP’s J&K unit.