J-K cabinet reshuffle: Omar Abdullah drops six ministers, inducts 10 new faces
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In a bid to give a rejuvenated look to his government an year ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, the Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today inducted ten new faces into his council of ministers.
Those inducted included Mohammad Akbar Lone, Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, Ajay Sadhotra, Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo, Mir Saifullah, Firoz Ahmad Khan and Nazir Ahmed Khan – all National Conference, besides Vikar Rasool, Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Abdul Majid Wani, all Congress. With the induction of Mohammad Akbar Lone into the council of ministers, the office of Legislative Assembly Speaker has fallen vacant.
To pave way for their induction, he dropped six National Conference and one Congress ministers from his present council. They included Nasir Aslam Wani, S S Slathia, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Abdul Gani Malik, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehadi and Javid Ahmed Dar – all National Conference, besides R S Chib of Congress who had been a member of the State Legislative Council.
Apart from giving a new look to his government, the entire reshuffle exercise, sources said, was aimed at satisfying the aspirations MLAs who had been complaining of government discrimination to their areas for want of any representation in the ministry. While doing so, the Chief Minister retained most of his senior cabinet colleagues and veteran National Conference leaders in his ministerial team.
However, the today's reshuffle also had surprises, with the dropping of Chief Minister's political advisor Devender Rana, who enjoyed the status of minister of state, and Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani. Both were considered very close to Omar Abdullah and they always had a say in all important matters of administration due to their close proximity to him.
Both Rana and Wani were appointed provincial presidents of the National Conference for Jammu and Kashmir provinces respectively. Party sources, however, say that duo have been given organizational work so as to strengthen the party ahead of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due next year.