With 20 new faces in 24 members cabinet Mufti Mohammad Sayeed begins his second inning as Chief Minister. Syed Asma reports the new formation and its CM’s tough talk from day one
Finally Jammu and Kashmir got its new government. After negotiating the deal for almost two months the state finally got a new coalition of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharitya Janta Party (BJP). Though till polls results were out no one expected that PDP would get into an alliance with India’s right wing political party, BJP. Even the senior party leaders denied the chances of this alliance quite openly.
Many say they had a bad start. On the very day of swearing in ceremony Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the new Chief Minister, invited press attention after he thanked Pakistan, separatist leadership and the militants for the ‘peaceful election’ and high voter turn-out. The separatists criticised him of being a screwed politician for creating confusion and misunderstanding about them. Mufti’s coalition partners at New Delhi criticised him of being thankless to their military forces and election commission in Kashmir.
The 79-years-old Mufti has been an important Indian political player. He started his second inning as Chief Minister and this time he tried to start on a different tone – sermons!
He addressed state police and aspired to end corruption.
The chief asked the state police to be a ‘source of reassurance to public rather than a cause of fear.’ He urged that the role of police is beyond providing security and advised them to bring a behavioural change in them. Mufti wants the state police to present their soft humane face and provide a helping hand to needy.
After thanking Pakistan, separatists and militants Mufti directed the police to initiate the process of releasing all the state political prisoners who have no criminal charges. Besides, comprehensive plan for rehabilitation of surrendered and released militants was also the part of his sermon.
The Chief Minister encouraged the friendly approach of the state police within its own ranks and make the organisation more accountable and transparent with a greater degree of integrity.
Mufti apart from ensuring transparency in the state’s governance system has made it compulsory for employees deputed in offices of council of ministers to obtain clearance from anti-corruption Vigilance Organization. It is for the first time in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that it has banned re-employment of ministerial staff post-retirement while strictly directing ministers not to appoint their relatives in their private offices.
Of the total 24 faces in the cabinet, almost 20 are first timers.
Dr Nirmal Singh is Jammu and Kashmir’s Deputy Chief Minister. Singh is the son of Maharaja’s Security aide Thakur Gajay Singh. He was associated with ABVP and RSS in the past. In the present government he has been assigned the charge of Power Development and Housing & Urban Development Departments. Singh has been a History professor in Jammu University. He is taken as an expert in organisational matters but lacks administrative experience. He has the declared asset of aroun
d Rs 1 crore.
Abdul Rehman Bhat alias Veeri, 58, was contesting from Bijibehra for the third time. Like Mufti, Veeri is a former Congress man who has served as a Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs, and Roads and Buildings in Mufti’s cabinet. A senior PDP man has been assigned the charge of Horticulture and Haj & Auqaf. He has assets worth Rs 1 crore.
Chander Parkash 59 years, a resident of Samba had contested from Vijyapur is a first time MLA. Prakash, a matriculate has been into business since years. He has been assigned the charge of Industries and Commerce. His Assets are around Rs 7 crore and his liabilities are around Rs 1 crore.
Javaid Mustafa Mir, 44 years old, contested from Chadoora representing PDP. A Class 12th pass-out will be handling the department of Revenue in the state. Mir is known for his unpredictable nature, was in the council of ministers during the PDP-Congress coalition government but had to resign after he beat up a chief engineer of the Power Development Department. His declared assets are worth Rs 6 crore.
Lal Singh, 55, has been assigned the charge of Health & Medical Education and ARI & Trainings. Singh, has been a Member of Parliament twice so far representing Congress. He joined BJP before the elections were conducted. A graduate working as a social servant had bagged 29,808 Votes and won by a margin of 6%. He represented BJP in Basohli. His declared assets are Rs 86 lakh and his liabilities are worth around Rs 35 lakh.
Abdul Haq Khan, 61, represents PDP in Lolab. A graduate Khan had joined People’s Conference led by Abdul Gani Lone in 1983 and later in 2003 joined PDP. Hailing from a Pahari tribe is the sole representative of his community in the cabinet. He has been assigned charge of Rural Development. A law graduate, his declared assets are around Rs 1 crore and liabilities are around Rs 6 laks.
Bali Bhagat, 50, has been assigned the charge of Social Welfare, Forest, Ecology and Environment. Bhagat is the senior-most BJP MLA. A graduate Bhagat was associated with ABVP since his school days. He won from Raipur Domana where he is considered to be an outsider. A Class 12th pass-out has assets worth Rs 1 crore and liabilities of around Rs 3 lakh.
Basharat Bukhari, 52, has been assigned the charge of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs and Relief and Rehabilitation. He was a renowned broadcaster in Radio Kashmir, which he quit in 2003 to join PDP. He represents Baramulla district from where PDP won four seats. A graduate has assets worth Rs 2 crore and liability of around Rs 6 lakh.
Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, 44, has been assigned the charge of Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution and Tribal Affairs. Ali, an advocate from Rajouri was among the first non-Kashmiris to join PDP. A business graduate, Ali holds a Master’s degree in law. He owns assets worth Rs 15 crores and has liabilities of around Rs 19 lakhs.
Sajad Gani Lone, 49, has been assigned the charge of Science & Technology and Animal Husbandry. Lone is a first-time legislator from North Kashmir’s Handwara. Youngest son of Peoples Conference founder Abdul Gani Lone holds a degree in economics from Cardiff University, London. He joined politics in 2002 after his father was assassinated. Known for his oratory skills, he is going to be part of the Mufti cabinet from the BJP quota. His declared assets are worth Rs 13 crore and liabilities around Rs 1 crores.
Dr Haseeb A. Drabu, 53, has been assigned the charge of Finance, Labour & Employment and Culture. Drabu is an economist who started his career at Planning Commission. He later became the national editor of Business Standard. Drabu is a masters’ in Economics from the University of Kashmir and has done his PhD in Economics from Jawahar Lal Nehru University. His assets are worth around Rs 11 crore with no liability.
Ghulam Nabi Lone, 60, has been assigned the charge of Agriculture Production. Lone earned a ticket into the Council of Ministers by defeating NC man and six-time MLA Abdul Rahim Rather from Chrar-e-Sharief. Lone worked as a lawyer before entering into politics. His assets are worth Rs 8 lakh and liabilities of around Rs 4 lakh.
Altaf Bukhari, 56, a businessman-turned-politician holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Science. He will handle Public Works, Floriculture and Parks. He represented PDP from Amira Kadal. He owns assets worth Rs 84 crore and has liabilities of around Rs 22 lakhs.
Imran Raza Ansari, 42, has been assigned the charge of Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Services and Sports. Ansari is the son of former minister and Shia cleric late Moulana Ifthikar Hussain Ansari, he holds a Masters degree in Political Science and pursued his religious education in Damascus, Syria and the Shia seminary of Ghom in Iran. His declared assets are worth Rs 11 crore.
Naeem Akhter, 63, a former bureaucrat and Mufti loyalist has been assigned the charge of Education. Akhtar took premature retirement when Omar Abdullah became CM in 2008 and formally joined PDP. Appointed as the chief spokesman Naeem was later elected to J&K’s Upper House.
Chering Dorjay, 66, has been assigned the charge of MoS Cooperative (Independent Charge) and MoS Ladakh Affairs. A BJP candidate from Leh Dorjey was elected unopposed to the legislative council. He was at the forefront of the campaign launched in demand of Union Territory status to Ladakh. His declared assets are worth Rs 2 crores and liabilities worth Rs 27 lakhs. He is a graduate of the University of Kashmir.
Abdul Majid Padder, 55, has been assigned the charge of Public Health Engineering, Irrigation & Flood Control, Animal Husbandry and Forest. His induction into the cabinet was quite a surprise. A former general secretary of the state Congress, Padder joined PDP four years ago.
Sunil Kumar Sharma, 39, has been assigned the charge of Public Works (R&B) and Revenue. The RSS man earlier worked with military forces on counter-insurgency. A face from Chenab valley became known after a communal flare-up in Kishtwar in 2013. A Class 12th Pass-out owns assets worth Rs 1 crore and has liabilities worth Rs 26 lakh.
Priya Sethi, 38, wife of Yudhvir Sethi, the BJP’s state secretary, was earlier elected councillor to Jammu Municipal Corporation. Sethi was indicted in the lower house by the Governor to ensure an adequate representation of women in the House.
Mohammad Ashraf Mir, 45, has been assigned the charge of Industries and Commerce, Power Development and Housing & Urban Development Departments. Mir is a business graduate who is running his family’s construction business. He was elected to the legislative council in 2012 and was PDP’s first member in the upper house from Srinagar. He was a star winner as he defeated the former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah from his home constituency. His assets are worth Rs 8 crore.
Asiea Naqash, 44, is the only woman MLA from PDP. Naqash, the sister-in-law of PDP leader and Srinagar MP Tariq Hameed Karra, is a law graduate. Before joining politics, she was into social work. Owning assets of around Rs 4 crore has liabilities of around Rs 16 lakhs.
Abdul Ghani Kohli, 67, has been assigned the charge of MoS Transport (Independent Charge), MoS Rural Development and Horticulture. Kohli is a retired engineer and is BJP’s only Muslim MLA. He won from Kalakote which is predominantly a Hindu constituency. He owns assets worth Rs 2 crore.
Pawan Kumar Gupta, 48, has been assigned the charge of Finance and Information Technology. Gupta got elected from Udhampur as an Independent and later extended his support to BJP. He is the son of a BJP leader, Lala Shiv Charan Gupta. Academically an engineer owns assets worth Rs 6 crores.