The Jammu and Kashmir Council of ministers is expected to be expanded and reshuffled by next week with Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi having given green signal to the proposal.
According to informed sources, the go ahead was given by the Congress Chief in a meeting held at her 10 Janpath residence Thursday at New Delhi which was also attended by state Congress Chief Saifuddin Soz, Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad, Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel and party’s Incharge J&K affairs Mohan Prakash.
Congress General Secretary in charge of J&K affairs, Mohan Prakash, while confirming that the issue of cabinet expansion in the state was discussed during the meeting, said that a threadbare discussion was held with regard to strengthening the party in Jammu and Kashmir. “A lot of issues regarding different party affairs were discussed and the party President Mrs Sonia Gandhi is keen to see the party strengthened at the grass roots”, Prakash said while talking to KNS from Delhi.
However, Prakash evaded a direct question as to who are the new faces that have been decided to be inducted into the state cabinet. “It will come out very soon and I am sure good things will come out”, he said.
Meanwhile reliable sources told KNS, that the issue of giving due representation to the Chenab valley, particularly the Doda district was discussed. “In view of protest by the Congress legislators from Doda, the party will give due representation to the region”, the sources said adding “The party president has underscored the need for giving due representation to all regions of the state”.
The congress chief, according to sources, is keen on monitoring the performance of the existing ministers hinting at a possible axing of non performing ministers from the state cabinet. “She sought feedback on performance of the existing ministers of the party apart from seeking suggestions from the leaders present in the meeting”, they said.
The congress chief will announce the names within a few days of the ministers to be inducted into the cabinet, the sources claimed.
Meanwhile, the National Conference Additional General Secretary, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal Friday blamed the congress party for delay in the expansion of the state cabinet. “We are ready for the expansion and it is congress which is responsible for delaying it”, said Kamal.
On the NCs dilemma over filling its vacant berth in the cabinet, Kamal said the National Conference is a disciplined party and that it had no problem in filling its vacancy.
“The Chief Minister, who is also the working President of the party, is authorized to nominate anyone he deems fit for the vacant portfolio. There are no issues within the party with regard to it”, he said adding “The Congress party should come out with names of candidates it wants to induct into the cabinet”.
While the total strength of the state cabinet is 25, the Congress has 10 ministers in the government including six cabinet ministers. Congress had to surrender a berth in the cabinet after resignation by GM Saroori for his alleged involvement in impersonation case involving his daughter. However the CBI later gave him a clean chit in the case. The party also lost education portfolio over the examination scandal involving foster son of former Congress leader and Minister for School Education, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed. Both the portfolios are presently held by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The National Conference also has a cabinet berth available for filling up.