With an eye on the 2014 polls, J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah relieved his close aides from government responsibilities to strengthen the National Conference party in the face of main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) strong showing in the state.
Seven new faces from National Conference, including the speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, were inducted into the ministry after his political advisor Devinder Rana and six ministers, including his close aide Nasir Aslam Wani, who was holding five portfolios, resigned on Monday. Congress too, dropped a senior minister, but inducted three newfaces in the council of ministry.
Congress leader and MLA Dooru Ghulam Ahmed Mir, who was recently acquitted by a CBI court in a 2006 sex scandal after all the prosecution witnesses turned hostile, was also inducted in the ministry.
The other ministers from National Conference who resigned included industries minister Surjeet Singh Salathia, consumer affairs minister Qamar Ali Akhoon, higher education minister Abdul Gani Malik, science and technology minister Aga Ruhullah and junior health minister Javed Dar. Sports and medical education minister RS Chib of Congress too had resigned.
Rana, and Nasir, the two close aides of Omar, were made provincial presidents of NC for Jammu and Kashmir divisions respectively. Akhoon, Salathia and Aga were made vice-presidents while Malik was made central secretary of the party.
J&K governor NN Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to Akbar Lone, Choudhury Mohammed Ramzan, Mir Saifullah, Ajay Sadotra, Sajad Kichloo, Nazir Ahmad Khan and Feroz Ahmad, who are from NC and Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Vikar Rasool Wani and Abdul Majid Wani from the Congress.
Choudhary and Saifullah will be representing border district of Kupwara which had not been represented in the cabinet so far. Ajay Sadhotra, who had lost the 2008 assembly polls and was made a member of the legislative council was also accommodated.