Even as Monday’s reshuffle in the J&K’s council of ministers was more or less on the expected lines, the ouster of Abdul Haq Khan and the induction of Muhammad Ashraf Mir came as the big surprises.
In probably the last reshuffle in her ministerial team before the 2019 parliamentary elections, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in a surprising development, dropped Khan holding the portfolio of rural development.
“Khan had no inkling that he would be axed from the ministerial team as it was widely believed that PDP would not touch its ministers and the reshuffle would be an all-BJP affair,” a source told .
“Khan was surprised when he was asked to put in his papers on Sunday evening.”
According to the source, only few in the PDP were in the know of the development till Monday morning. “The reasons for dropping Khan are almost similar to those of the BJP minister Bali Baghat,” he said.
The induction of MLA Sonawar Ashraf Mir is seen as a strategic move by the PDP to give “adequate” representation to Srinagar where party had won five seats out of eight seats in the last assembly election.
With Mir’s entry, the number of ministers in Mehbooba’s team from the summer capital district has gone to three. Syed Altaf Bukhari (Finance Minister) and Asiya Naqash (Minister of State for Health) are other ministers from the city in the council of ministers.
The induction of Khalil Band was aimed to give representation to Pulwama district in the cabinet after Haseeb Drabu was removed from the council of minister for his controversial remarks on Kashmir issue. Drabu had last month said that Kashmir was not a political issue, but a society with “social issues.”
On the expected lines, the BJP wielded its stick on non-performers, bringing in five new faces. “The BJP high command was not happy with performance of its ministers. That message was clear in the rejig,” a source said.
The BJP brought in five new faces and even replaced deputy CM Nirmal Singh with Kavinder Gupta, who is considered close to RSS.