The party high command has summoned the top leader of J&K BJP to New Delhi on Monday for consultation on replacing its present set of ministers in the PDP-BJP coalition ministry headed by Mehbooba Mufti. It is learnt that consultations between the central and state leaderships of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of finalising the list of its new ministers would be held on Monday and Tuesday.
Those who have been summoned to the national capital from Jammu are state BJP chief Sat Sharma, organising secretary Ashok Kaul and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. Ram Madhav, national general secretary of the BJP, would hold initial consultations with the state leaders and later discuss it with BJP President Amit Shah, before giving a green signal to the new list of ministers.
The new ministers of the BJP are expected to be sworn in later this week in Jammu before the civil secretariat shuts for its summer move to Srinagar.
There were reports that at least five of the existing eight J&K BJP ministers might be replaced. Two ministers were dropped last week for having participated in a rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch that supported the demand for CBI probe into the rape-murder of a minor girl in Kathua district.
A rejig of the cabinet by replacing the BJP ministers whose resignations were taken last week was necessitated amid complaints from BJP and RSS activists that they had miserably failed to deliver, as a result of which the graph of BJP had nosedived in Jammu where the party won 25 seats for the first time in the last Assembly elections and came to power by supporting the PDP.
However, Mehbooba is yet to undertake the exercise of recasting the PDP representatives in her cabinet. Education Minister Altaf Bukhari is holding the additional portfolio of finance after senior PDP leader Haseeb Drabu was sacked last month for stating that Kashmir was not a political issue. There was resentment in a section of the PDP on the issue of Mehbooba making Bukhari a powerful minister by giving him the two important portfolios of education and finance.
Naeem Akhtar, Works Minister, had offered to shed the education portfolio when Bukhari had last year expressed annoyance for not getting some important portfolio. Akhtar has been a trusted man of Mufti Sayeed, Mehbooba’s father, and worked in his personal staff when Mufti was Home Minister at the Centre.