As the annual budget session of Jammu and Kashmir legislature ended , the ruling coalition partners – People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) – are gearing up to undertake massive reshuffle of the state cabinet.
Sources within the power corridors revealed that the proposed cabinet reshuffle is likely to be one of the biggest so far since the formation of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, as both the coalition partners are contemplating to bring fresh faces replacing some “old hawks” in order to counter “anti-incumbency factor.”
The cabinet reshuffle in the BJP became necessary when the PDP inducted Tassaduq Hussain Mufti as cabinet minister raising the strength of the party to 12, including Chief Minister, in the state cabinet. The BJP on the other hand has only 8, including Deputy Chief Minister as cabinet ministers.
The PDP has 2 MoS while the BJP has three. To ensure balance in the cabinet, the BJP is likely to upgrade one of its MoS as the cabinet minister.
“The Bhartiya Janta Party has already undertaken the exercise. The party high command is likely to intimate the Chief Minister about its decision by next week following which the formal reshuffle among the party ministers would take place”, sources privy to the development told Greater Kashmir.
They said that the reshuffle by the BJP will be followed by similar exercise by the PDP, which is facing “heat from the party workers” due to the “non-cooperative attitude of the some of the ministers”.
“The BJP wants to give chance to some new faces as the coalition government completes three years this March”, they said adding that three ministers are likely to be dropped while there will be complete reshuffle of portfolios among the other ministers.
If sources are to be believed the party was contemplating to undertake the reshuffle in November, last year, but the proposal was dropped due to Gujrat elections. “It was also a consensus in the party that the present ministers be allowed to work till the completion of three years following which a performance audit will be done”, they claimed.
The Peoples Democratic Party, they claimed, will also carry out similar exercise but the major reshuffle within the party is unlikely.
“There may be some changes in the portfolios as the party is battling dissent within the cabinet”, they said.
It was also learnt that both the parties are also seriously considering the fact that at least three non-elected persons, including brother of the Chief Minister, hold cabinet berths. “One of the MLCs may be dropped giving chance to an elected representative”, they claimed.
The party was also contemplating to give chance to some new faces or giving key portfolios to those who were holding “not-so-important” ministries.
Mehbooba Mufti had in December last year inducted her cinematographer brother Tassaduq Hussain Mufti and PDP MLA Javed Mustafa Mir as ministers in her cabinet.
The Chief Minister had allotted Tourism portfolio to her brother Tassaduq while Javed was given portfolios of Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and Floriculture departments.
The PDP Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri was divested of Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation & Reconstruction portfolios and now looks after Revenue, Parliamentary Affairs and Hajj and Auqaf.
With the induction of two PDP ministers in the cabinet, the party has exhausted its quota of ministers while its coalition partner BJP has already exhausted its share in the Ministry.
As per Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, there can be maximum of 25 ministers (20 per cent of the total strength of both houses of the legislature).