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J-K Cabinet rejig in offing? BJP tells ministers to quit

According to reports, the he decision was taken at BJP’s core group meeting in Jammu.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 23:18 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Jammu
BJP ministers,Jammu and Kashmir,Mehbooba Mufti
Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti during the budget session of the assembly, in Jammu.(PTI File Photo)

Jammu and Kashmir appeared headed for a Cabinet reshuffle, with reports saying on Tuesday that the Bharatiya Janata Party had asked its ministers in the ruling coalition with the Peoples Democratic Party to submit their resignations.

A BJP office-bearer in New Delhi said the resignations in the Mehbooba Mufti-led government would lay the groundwork for a long-pending reshuffle. “There is no threat to the coalition government,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.

He said a decision on the resignations was taken last week, when the party’s general secretary and key interlocutor with the PDP, Ram Madhav, travelled to the state at the peak of a controversy following the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu’s Kathua.

The BJP’s leaders in the state, however, did not confirm the development.

Mehbooba Mufti has already accepted the resignations of two BJP ministers who had participated in a rally in support of the people arrested in connection with the rape-murder. With the resignations, the number of ministers in the state government came down to 22, including nine from the BJP.

The Kathua incident has again strained the ties between the BJP and PDP, which became unpopular in the state after forming a governing alliance with the saffron party in 2015.

The Jammu and Kashmir CM told the BJP that for the coalition to survive, the two ministers would have to quit, a close aide of Mehbooba’s said last week. The state unit of the BJP was unhappy about the resignations but had to comply with a directive straight from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said a party leader. One of the complaints of the state unit was that Mehbooba had not acted on the Cabinet reshuffle despite the BJP pressing for it.

There are three vacancies in the council of ministers in the state, as the PDP had last month removed its finance minister Haseeb Drabu after his controversial remark that Kashmir was not a political issue.

Reports had said in February that the reshuffle was being planned to bring fresh faces in the government in order to battle the anti-incumbency factor.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 21:16 IST