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J&K Council of Ministers: Assembly Speaker, Kavinder Gupta, among eight entrants


Jammu, Speaker Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta was among eight ministers inducted in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. The swearing-in ceremony of the new members of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-headed dispensation was held here this morning.Mr Kavinder Gupta swapped positions with Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh. Other new Bharatiya Janata Party faces sworn in as ministers included state party president Satpal Sharma (MLA Jammu West), Kathua's Rajeev Jasrotia and MLA Samba, Devinder Kumar Manyal. Mr Kavinder Gupta, Mr Satpal Sharma, Mr Rajeev Jasrotia and Mr Devendra Manyal were inducted as Ministers of State. Transport Minister Sunil Sharma (BJP) was elevated to the rank of a cabinet minister. BJP MLA from Doda, Shakti Raj Parihar, also took oath as a Minister of State.Besides, Peoples Democratic Party's Mohammad Khalil Band (Pulwama) and Mohammad Ashraf Mir (Sonwar) were inducted as Cabinet Ministers. BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and Minister of State in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh were among those present.The ceremony was held at the Convention centre instead of Raj Bhavan due to the Darbar move to the summer capital. As a part of the bi-annual shift, the government functions for six months each in Jammu and Srinagar.BJP also discarded Minister for Health Bali Bhagat and MoS Tourism, Culture Priya Sethi, its lone woman representative. Taking the tally to 25, Governor N N Vohra administered oath to the ministers. PDP had one vacancy in the state dispensation since the unceremonious ouster of Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu. Two vacancies existed in the BJP quota and resignations of three more Ministers were sent to Governor NN Vohra in New Delhi. Keeping its strength at 11, the BJP inducted five new faces in the Council of Ministers . Mr Kavinder Gupta had submitted his resignation to Deputy Speaker, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi after which the election for the new Speaker will be convened through a Government notification. The PDP with 28 MLAs-BJP (25) alliance has an overriding majority in the 87-member state Assembly. The BJP already had two vacancies in its quota after the resignations of Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh and Industry and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga. The BJP will now have 11 Ministers, including nine of Cabinet rank and two Ministers of State (Mr Shakti Parihar, new entrant and Ajay Nanda, MoS Finance and Planning). PDP will have 14 ministers as per agreement of Agenda of Alliance. People’s Conference MLA and Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone is also a representative from the BJP quota.Party sources said Mr Ram Madhav had detailed discussions on Sunday evening with Dr Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta in New Delhi. The list was also approved by BJP national president Amit Shah. Reshuffle among the BJP Ministers was necessitated as Mr Lal Singh and Mr Chander Prakash Ganga had to resign for extending support to the people of Rassana for their demand to hold a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Kathua rape-murder of an eight-year-old girl, a. case which had assumed strident communal overtones. All BJP Ministers, except Dr Nirmal Singh, had submitted their resignations to facilitate a reshuffle in the Ministry.The allocation of portfolios was expected to be announced by the evening.

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