Omar inducts 10 new faces in his Cabinet

FP

In an attempt to give a rejuvenated look to his government a year ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday inducted 10 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 from National Conference and Vikar Rasool, Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Abdul Majid Wani from the Congress. With the induction of Mohammad Akbar Lone, the office of Assembly Speaker has fallen vacant.

To pave way for their induction, Omar dropped six National Conference and one Congress ministers.

They included Nasir Aslam Wani, S S Slathia, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Abdul Gani Malik, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehadi and Javid Ahmed Dar of the National Conference and Congress's R S Chib.

Apart from giving a new look to his government, the entire reshuffle exercise, sources said, was aimed at satisfying aspirations of MLAs who had been complaining of government discrimination in 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.

The reshuffle also had a few surprises, with the dropping of Omar'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 close to Omar and had a say in all important matters of administration.

Rana and Wani were appointed presidents of the National Conference for Jammu and Kashmir provinces respectively. Party sources said the two have been given organisational work to strengthen the party ahead of polls next year.

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