In an unprecedented move, the Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief on Saturday unilaterally announced the portfolios of the seven party men, an hour after they were inducted into the council of ministers.
Distribution of portfolios is the prerogative of chief minister.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has shot off a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, describing Saifuddin Soz’s move as an “unprecedented breach of propriety”.
Abdullah’s National Conference runs a coalition government with the Congress in the state. Soz’s move is being seen as an attempt by the Congress to undermine the authority of the Abdullah.
Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Prithvi Raj Chavan, who is also in-charge of the Congress affairs in the
state, was with Soz when he announced the portfolios.
It was for the first time in the state that a non-official, not directly connected with the government formation, had announced the portfolios, Zafar Shah, a constitutional expert, said. “It’s contrary to the constitutional practice.”
“Abdullah will take up the matter with Sonia Gandhi as and when he visits Delhi,” sources said.
A minister told HT, “Tomorrow the DMK will go out and announce its own portfolios.”
Even senior Congress ministers were taken by surprise. “Is he trying to prove that he is running a parallel government of the Congress and Omar is heading the NC flock alone?” the minister, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.
“He is creating difficulties for us,” said another Congress minister, who, too, didn’t wish to be identified.
Soz’s move, said sources, was aimed at scoring a point over Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is an archrival.
Azad is also a former chief minister of the state.
Repeated attempts to reach Soz proved futile.