J-K has new deputy CM; 5 BJP MLAs, 2 from PDP take oath as ministers


Jammu, April 30: Speaker Kavinder Gupta of BJP was on Monday sworn in as deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in place of Nirmal Singh, who swaps place with Gupta. Governor NN Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to Gupta and seven other ministers in the PDP-BJP coalition ministry led by Mehbooba Mufti.
Sat Sharma, president of the J-K unit of BJP; Sunil Sharma, DK Manyal, Rajiv Jasrotia and Shakti Parihar of the BJP; and Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Mohammad Khalil Band of PDP were also sworn in as ministers.
Sunil Sharma has been rewarded by elevating him to the cabinet rank as he had been handling the transport portfolio effectively as a minister of state.
The central leadership of BJP that was flooded with complaints of non-performance of some of its ministers dropped deputy CM Nirmal Singh, health minister Bali Bhagat and minister of state for tourism Priya Sethi, from the coalition ministry.
Kavinder Gupta and Nirmal Singh were locked in a long tussle over their respective status in the state hierarchy in their capacity as Speaker and Deputy CM.
While all nine ministers of the BJP were asked to submit their resignations on 17 April, Nirmal Singh submitted his resignation last night. Two other ministers, Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga had been made to resign as Mehbooba took exception to their participation in a rally in Kathua where they supported the demand of transferring the investigation of the rape-murder of a minor girl to the CBI.
After being sworn in as deputy CM, Kavinder Gupta, an old RSS activist, said: “Party gave me the responsibility to bring in change after three years. I’ll try my best to meet expectations of people and work for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We had entered into an alliance, following people’s mandate. I hope it keeps working for them.”
BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh were present in the swearing-in ceremony.
The ceremony was held in the convention centre near the state guest house instead of the Raj Bhavan as most of the staff has already shifted to Srinagar due to move of offices there for the summer.
With the strength of two houses of legislature, the state can have 25 ministers, including the chief minister. As the PDP-BJP had formed a post-electoral alliance to form the government, the PDP has been given the quota of 14 ministers whereas the BJP has 11 ministers. (Agencies)