Governor administers Oath to Council of Ministers

Governor administers Oath to Council of Ministers
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Jammu, Apr 30: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta, state BJP chief Sat Paul Sharma and six others were on Monday sworn in as ministers in the state’s PDP-BJP government led by Mehbooba Mufti. The major shake-up of the council of ministers, including six of the BJP and two of the PDP — follows BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga resigning from the cabinet earlier this month after they were criticised for taking part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
Kavinder Gupta, described as an old RSS hand, will be the new deputy chief minister in place of Nirmal Singh, who submitted his resignation last night, officials said.
The function was held at the convention centre instead of the Raj Bhavan because the J&K government had already shifted its base to the summer capital of Srinagar as part of its biannual ‘darbar move’, under which the government functions from the two capital cities of the state for six months each.
Besides Gupta and Sharma, the new BJP faces sworn in as ministers were the MLAs from Kathua and adjoining Sambha, Rajiv Jasrotia and Devinder Kumar Manyal, respectively. The BJP also upgraded Sunil Sharma, at present minister of state for transport, to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP legislator Shakti Raj took oath as a minister of state.
From the PDP, Pulwama MLA Mohammed Khalil Band and Sonawar MLA Mohammed Ashraf Mir took oath as ministers.
Of the eight, seven are first time ministers. Seven of the eight are cabinet ministers.
While Gupta, Sat Paul Sharma and Sunil Sharma took the oath in Hindi, Mir, Jasrotia, Manyal and Shakti Raj took the oath in English. Band took his oath in Urdu.
Slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” were heard from the audience as Sat Paul Sharma and Shakti Raj took their oath of office.
The BJP has dropped Nirmal Singh, who is likely to be the new speaker, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and minister of state Priya Sethi, the lone woman who was removed, officials said.
The saffron party had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the PDP-BJP government in the state to submit their resignations so new faces could be brought in. The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the governor.
The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister. Of these, 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.