As officials at the Jammu and Kashmir Raj Bhavan and the civil secretariat skipped their Sunday holiday to address protocol and legal issues related to Monday’s swearing-in of an elected government, intense speculation did the rounds on who will get a berth or will be axed in new council of ministers.
Governor N.N. Vohra formally invited Mehbooba Mufti, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief, on Saturday evening to be sworn-in as the new chief minister of the state on Monday.
Initial reports about the composition of the council of ministers said both the PDP and the ally Bharatiya Janata party would field the same faces for the 25-member council of ministers which was headed by the then chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
Political circles were abuzz with speculations on Sunday that Mehbooba, who arrived in Jammu, has decided to drop some of the senior leaders who held important portfolios during her father’s 10-month chief ministerial tenure. Sayeed passed away in New Delhi on January 7 following multi-organ failure.
“At least four senior PDP leaders are on the ‘hit list’ of Mehboobaji… They held important assignments in the council of ministers of her father,” a top PDP source told IANS here.
“None among the previous lot of PDP ministers has so far received a formal word from her to be in readiness for tomorrow’s oath taking ceremony as a minister,” the source added on Sunday.
“But she is holding a meeting here at 4.30 p.m. today and things will become clear after that,” the source said.
Similarly, three senior BJP ministers who held important portfolios in the last council of ministers are also likely to be dropped and new faces brought in to replace them.
“Out of these three likely to be axed, at least two are definitely being dropped,” revealed a BJP source.
The new council of ministers headed by Mehbooba will be sworn-in at the state’s Raj Bhavan in Jammu city at 11.30 a.m. on Monday.
The oath taking ceremony is to be a low-key affair.
Previously, it was said union Home Minister Rajnath Singh would attend the function, but now union Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu will attend the function.
Union minister of state (PMO) Jitendra Singh is also scheduled to be present during the swearing-in ceremony. He represents the Kathua-Udhampur constituency from the state in the Lok Sabha.