Separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Lone on Wednesday flew to Srinagar from Jammu in a huff, a day after he was given the portfolios of science and technology and animal husbandry from the BJP quota.
Sajjad Lone, 48, who became first influential separatist leader to contest assembly polls last year, is apparently unhappy with the portfolios assigned to him by the newly formed BJP-PDP alliance in the state on Tuesday evening.
“I have a very important unavoidable personal engagement in Srinagar. Why should I be unhappy?” Lone told reporters before flying to Srinagar on a morning flight.
Lone has decided not to join the ministry or attend Cabinet meetings. Sources said Lone was under tremendous pressure from workers of his party, People's Conference, to quit because they consider the ministries assigned to him as "less significant".
This is second time that Lone is protesting since the process of government formation in J-K.
Lone decided to stay put in Srinagar in protest against the reported decision of the coalition government to drop his name from the list of ministers, a day before the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday.
Sources said Lone, who was once seen as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi ahead of the polls, was eyeing top ministries like tourism or forests. Tussle within the BJP over portfolio distribution saw Lone getting two other departments.
Sources also said Lone may renegotiate his portfolios with the BJP and is considering resignation to stay in the opposition.
Son of assassinated Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, Sajjad Lone is planning to revive his father’s political legacy by resurrecting his once-separatist party in north Kashmir,where his party won the assembly segments of Handwara and Kupwara.
Lone remains a crucial partner of the BJP in Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.
Meanwhile, ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) senior leader Abdul Rehman Bhat Veeri also failed to show up at Jammu’s Civil Secretariat on Wednesday, apparently unhappy with the horticulture and Haj & Auqaf portfolios.
BJP’s Sunil Sharma, who has been made minister of state for public works and revenue, has also refused to assume office. He has won Kishtwar seat from Chenab Valley.