Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cabinet expansion

NC calls Cong as ‘impediment’
With three ministerial berths lying vacant in state cabinet since it was formed in 2008 and two more portfolios of congress falling in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s lap, the National Conference on Monday gave a new twist to the already complicated issue, saying Congress was the biggest impediment in the ‘overdue’ cabinet expansion.

“We are ready for the expansion but unfortunately there has been no green signal from congress in this regard,” additional general secretary Dr. Mustafa Kamal has told KNS, a local news gathering agency.

 As per the present cabinet format National Conference has one cabinet vacancy available whereas Congress has two, besides two additional portfolios of R&B and Education which had gone vacant following the resignation of the two respective Congress ministers after allegedly helping their children pass the different exams.

 Sources told KNS that National Conference had four contenders for the single vacancy available to it as per the seat sharing agreement in the cabinet, whereas Congress was battling the factionalism within the party to pick up its two candidates for the cabinet.

“For one vacancy available to NC, we have Choudary Mohammad Ramzan, Mir Saif ullah from frontier district of Kupwara, Sajad Ahmad Kichlo from Kashtawar and Dr. Mustafa Kamal from Srinagar staking the claim,” a senior leader of the party told KNS .

He, however, added that now after party reorganization in which Dr. Kamal and Sajad Ahmad Kichlo have been given the important party assignments, things eased up a bit for the ruling party. “There are now just two contenders for the lone cabinet birth and both are from the same district.” added the sources.

 Meanwhile, party sources told KNS that Mir Saifullah is likely be picked up for the cabinet. They, however, added that no final decision had been taken as yet and maintained that this was only the possibility.

 In the meantime, NC  additional general secretary Dr.  Kamal made it clear that party leadership was satisfied with the performance of its ministers in the Omar led cabinet and it was unlikely that any of them would be called back at this point of time. He insisted that whosoever makes it to the cabinet, party should now take a decision on the expansion as that would ease pressure from Omar. “Taking one more party leader into cabinet will help Omar to concentrate on governance more,” added Kamal.

 Meanwhile, Congress sources revealed to KNS that the MLAs from Doda are lobbying hard to get a representation in the cabinet. Known for their loyalty to former Chief Minster and now the union health Minster Ghulam Nabi Azad, these MLAs have reportedly approached 7 Race Course in New Delhi to get their names cleared for the cabinet. “We won 5 out of six seats in assembly elections, but the irony is that none of us is in the cabinet,” claimed an MLA from Doda, wishing anonymity. 

 Sources told KNS that former Minster G.M Saroori  was  also lobbying hard for a come back which could be another big challenge for congress high command while taking any decision on cabinet expansion in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources maintained that CBI has not indicted Saroori and even Chief Minster Omar Abdullah had also hinted about Saroori coming clean of the charges soon.

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