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Cabinet reshuffle today; Kavinder could be new Dy CM

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Jammu, Apr 29: The much awaited reshuffle in the council of ministry headed by CM Mehbooba Mufti is finally taking place on Monday at Jammu Convention Centre.
A highly-placed source in BJP said that the reshuffle will see some major changes made in the list of the party ministers, who are part of the Cabinet in this PDP-BJP coalition government.
The source said that the state is likely to get a new Deputy Chief Minister as the current Speaker Kavinder Gupta is expected to change seats with Nirmal Singh.
“Kavinder has been on the list of people expected. Recently, he has been prominently taking part in touring several developmental works in various Jammu parts,” the source added.
The swearing-in of new Ministers by the Governor is scheduled to be held at noon at the Convention Centre instead of Raj Bhavan as all government offices in Jammu have shut down on Saturday ahead of a six-month sojourn in summer capital Srinagar.
Among other likely changes in the cabinet, the source said, could be dropping of Minister for Health & Medical Education, Bali Bhagat and Minister of State for Education, Technical Education, Tourism and Culture, Priya Sethi.
Also to be likely inducted in the State Cabinet, as per the source, is BJP state president Sat Sharma.
“He has been lobbying for induction into the state cabinet for a while,” the source added.
BJP’s junior Minister Sunil Sharma too is likely to be elevated to Cabinet rank.
The final list, the source continued, has been prepared after detailed consultation with BJP national president Amit Shah and party general secretary, Ram Madhav.
To mention, the two vacancies in the BJP quota had arisen due to resignations of Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh and Industry and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga early this month after they were massively criticised for taking part in a pro-accused rally in the backdrop of rape and murder of an eight year old Bakerwal girl from Kathua.
Peoples Democratic Party sources said that no new faces from the party will be inducted in the Council of Ministers. One ministerial berth that fell vacant after the dropping of then Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu from the Council of Ministers will not be filled by the ruling party now.
The source, however, did not rule out minor reallocation of portfolios among the PDP Ministers.
The other names doing the rounds for ministerial berths include Sukhnandan Choudhary, Shakti Parihar, Rajesh Jasrota, and Ravinder Raina.
Presently, there were 22 Ministers in the State including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as against maximum prescribed strength of 25. Of three vacancies, two belonged to BJP and one to PDP. The PDP vacancy had arisen due to unceremonious removal of Dr Haseeb Drabu, the then Finance Minister, due to his remarks on Kashmir situation.
As per the PDP-BJP agreement, PDP can have 14 Ministers and BJP 11. Presently PDP has 13 and BJP eight. Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone belonged to the People’s Conference, a BJP ally.
In connection to the reshuffle, Chief Secretary, B.B Vyas Sunday chaired a meeting at Convention Centre to finalize the arrangements for the oath taking ceremony.
The meeting discussed the arrangements related to seating capacity, security, traffic regulation, Public Address System, sanitation, decoration, power supply and drinking water supply.
The Chief Secretary directed the security agencies to ensure fool proof security arrangements in and around the venue. He further asked for identifying sufficient space for the parking of vehicles to avoid traffic jam.


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Guv reaches out to Hurriyat:’ I’m no alien, contact me directly in case of injustice’

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Jan 15: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday reached out to the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir urging them to apprise him directly of the cases of “atrocity and injustice” to common people that they may come across.

Malik made the offer with an appeal that the Hurriyat Conference leaders should not treat him as “an alien”.

“I have a message for Hurriyat that they should not consider me as an alien,” Governor Malik told news agency PTI in an interview.

 

“As far as Hurriyat is concerned, I have respect for them, even though their ideology is different from mine. They have a different ideology and I have a different one,” the governor added.

Promising to treat Hurriyat leaders’ complaints with due urgency, the governor said, “If they (Hurriyat) feel there is any atrocity (by troops or police), they can contact me on phone or send a person to me.”

“I will treat them (and their complaints) the way I am treating the rest of the people,” said the governor, maintaining that he has opened up the Raj Bhawan for all.

In his first-ever statement aimed at building bridges between Hurriyat leaders and the Raj Bhawan, Malik also expressed hope that “at some level, there will be talks too” with them at some time.

Explaining that he has always been hearing out the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said, “I take all calls including those from common people of the state. My mobiles and WhatsApp have never been silent. All those complaints which come to me on WhatsApp, I have tried to address them.”

The governor even attended a few calls from general public during the interview itself.

Malik said he even often sends officials from Raj Bhawan to collect the complaints of aggrieved individuals, even if they may not be so pressing or urgent.

Malik emphasised that in his dealings, his opinion is based not merely on official briefings but on narratives of the common people as well.

“I have met all political leaders and keep meeting them regularly,” he said, adding he has also met several delegations of common people and youth groups, “opening himself to them and hearing them out”.

“There is a need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so that they understand that the Centre is not against them,” he added.

Malik said during his short tenure in the office, he has received and resolved thousands of complaints and grievances and has given directions to his advisors to address them as soon as possible.

The grievance cell of Jammu and Kashmir administration has resolved over 40,000 of the complaints registered so far by it.

Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule in the state on June 20, the grievance cell has received 41,716 complaints, of which 40,457 have been dealt with, officials said.

These complaints have been forwarded to the quarters concerned for timely resolution, they said, adding that 877 complaints were “under process”.

The three advisors to the governor have been regularly meeting and hearing the grievances both in Srinagar and Jammu, they said.

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GoI should talk to militants too: Mehbooba

‘People don’t hate PDP; they’re just upset with it’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Terming local militants as “sons of soil”, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Government of India (GoI) should initiate dialogue with the militant leadership in Kashmir to end the “gun culture”.

“Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture,” she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.

“I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well,” she said.

 

Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence.

“Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets.

“If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then,” she said.

The PDP leader said that people of Kashmir “are upset with us but don’t hate us” for the party’s decision to align with BJP.

“We aligned with BJP to resolve the issue of Kashmir, our party is created for resolution of Kashmir issue, not to come to power,” she said.

“We are sure sooner people will understand why we joined hands with BJP and leave their grudge aside,” Mehbooba added.

On those who left the party, Mehbooba said that they were always against her and that they were the ones to woo BJP in 2016 after her father’s death.

“Those who left the party went to BJP and asked them to form a government because they had a lust for power. If I had not aligned with BJP, God knows what these leaders would have compromised to come into power,” the former BJP ally said.

On her statement on civilian killings that was criticised, she reiterated that she was “just being a mother”.

On rehabilitation of militant families, Mehbooba said that she has always been visiting those who have been affected in the conflict.

“I have been visiting affected families since the incident of Machil encounter,” Mehbooba stated.

On Farooq Abdullah’s statement on operation all out, she said that during National conference rule the former chief minister said that fake encounters were on rise.

“Thank God! there was no fake encounter during our rule,” she said.

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In Kulgam, Omar trains guns at Guv, Mehbooba

‘Kuka Parrey would have been CM had my father not fought ‘96 polls; Guv should leave politics to us; As CM, Mehbooba could have done much more for militants’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice-president National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that Governor Satya Pal Malik’s job was not to interfere in state politics but to make the situation favourable for the elections so that people are able to take part in electoral process again.

“Governor (SP Malik) Sahab’s job is not to interfere in the politics here. Politics is our job. The sole responsibility of the Governor and his administration is to make the situation favourable to conduct elections so that people will once again take part in the election process,” Omar said during a rally in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

Criticising the governor for his remark that there is no ‘Operation All-out’ in Kashmir, Omar said people are now confused as “on one hand we listen to (words like) operation all-out from the army and on another, we hear from the Governor that there was no such operation.”

 

“We will never support such operation where the people will suffer the most. The crackdowns, killings or excesses, whatever you will name them, even then we won’t support such operations,” Omar said.

He said that it needed to be understood what was forcing youth to take to militancy.

“We would like to understand these things and would try to address them accordingly,” Omar added.

Later while taking to reporters, the NC vice-president said had his party and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah not contested 1996 election in the state then the notorious militant-turned renegade Kuka Parray would have been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Nobody can deny this or even I can’t prove it, this is my belief that if Farooq Sahab and NC would not have contested 1996 elections then Kuka Parray would have been J&K CM. Whether or not anybody accepts this, it is up to them,” Omar said.

On PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said as J&K Chief Minister she could have done more for such families, but at that time she completely forgot them.

“She could have done well for these families when she was heading a government. She had good relations with Prime Minister. She was calling Defence Minister on phone and was also heading a powerful Unified Command,” he said.

“But at that time she never bothered to visit them,” he said adding: “Now, when she has nothing with her, and her party is in shambles, she is visiting these families,” Omar said.

On former IAS officer Shah Faesal, the NC vice-president said that it is for him to decide where he wants to go now after quitting his job.

“It’s his choice now where to go. If he wants to join NC then definitely we will discuss it. As Shah Faesal has quit his service for the people of Kashmir, it is he who has to decide how to work for the people,” he said.

He hoped that south Kashmir would give his party another chance in the next assembly elections.

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