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Mehbooba cabinet expansion: Guv to administer oath today
Altaf Bukhari all set to stage comeback
JAMMU, Feb 16: Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government will have its first cabinet expansion with the Governor N N Vohra administering the oath of office and secrecy to legislator(s) being inducted into the Council of Ministers at Raj Bhavan at 12.30 PM tomorrow.

Given the availability of two vacancies in the Council of Ministers and both under PDP’s quota, it is being presumed that the coalition partner BJP will not disturb its present lot of ministers, in both the cabinet and the ministers of State ranks. Thus in all likelihood, the entire exercise will remain restricted to PDP shuffle only in the Council of Ministers.

The names of those being inducted in the cabinet in its first reshuffle or more appropriately expansion, though, remained in the realm of speculation with no official word, either on the name or the number of faces. However going by the names doing rounds in the official circles or political corridors, PDP MLA from Amirakadal in Srinagar district and the former R&B Minister, Altaf Ahmed Bukhari is all set to stage a comeback as a cabinet minister in the Council of Ministers within a less than a year after he was dropped in April, 2016.

Besides Bukhari, there is possibility of induction of one Minister of State also for which the name of Mohammed Ashraf Mir, again a `drop out’ in April 2016 cabinet after Mehbooba took over as the first Chief Minister of J&K, is leading the `list of probable candidates.’

Among other presumable names in the list also included PDP’s fire-brand leader Javaid Mustafa Mir and Sajjad Mufti.

Interestingly Javaid, who had earlier served as the minister twice, had created some awkward moments for the coalition as well as his party in the recently concluded assembly session criticizing them on the floor of the House much to the amusement of opposition. But at the same time he had on many occasions as a mature politician came to the rescue of both against the vociferous opposition’s assault.

On the other hand, the name of Sajjad Mufti, a close relative of Muftis, was clouded with controversies as the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Omar Abdullah on the floor of House had linked his name along with Sartaj Madni, yet another close relative of Muftis and in the list of probable ministers despite his recent promotion, with the ‘flourishing transfer industry in the South Kashmir.’

Omar had stated there was word going on in the official circles that no transfer was possible without the recommendation of Madni or Sajjad Mufti in the South Kashmir.

The wild speculations also revolved around the names of MLC Firdous Tak and Tasadduq Mufti, the brother of Mehbooba Mufti. Their names did not gain much currency as in the wake of its waning popularity following Burhan Wani’s killing leading to Kashmir unrest - the formidable challenge before PDP is to strengthen its base in Kashmir, mainly in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies which are going to by-polls this year.

Given the political expediency, it is being presumed that the PDP will reshuffle and expand keeping in view its immediate challenge which will also impact its political future.

Besides Bukhari, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Mohammed Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majid Padder were dropped by Mehbooba when she took over as the Chief Minister after the death of her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. Present strength of Council of Ministers is 23 including the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

News Updated at : Friday, February 17, 2017
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