7 ‘Ministers’ enjoying benefit of doubt

Rinku Choudhary

Jammu, January 30

While 24 former Ministers of the erstwhile alliance government of Peoples Democratic Party-Bhartiya Janta Party are haplessly waiting for revival of their fates, at least seven of their colleagues are still enjoying ‘benefit of doubt’.

The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government ceased to exist with the death of Chief Minister on the morning of January 7, 2016. Expectations were rife for the re-installation of government under Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti but her refusal to come forward with the stake dealt a blow to the ministerial ambitions of the Ministers who were barely ten months in office. With no timeline on government formation from the erstwhile PDP-BJP alliance, the Governor NN Vohra took over the role of executive head of the state on January 9.

However, seven members from the BJP and PDP who enjoyed status and protocol of the Ministers of State in their capacity as Vice Chairpersons of various boards and corporations have neither resigned nor formally asked by the Raj Bhawan to do so. Chief Minister happens to the Chairperson of all the boards and corporations except one. Since no Chief Minister exists at this point of time, the positions of Vice Chairersons, which are statutory in nature, were expected to have ceased. But there is still no clarity on their fate.

Some of them didn’t resign waiting for the revival of the government sometime soon while others didn’t have clarity whether their offices exist or not. Since, most of the boards and corporations do not exist at all the times, their staff have still not been withdrawn and offices not closed. A few Vice Chairpersons are still conducting some low profile functions.

Among the Vice Chairpersons the following four belong to the Peoples Democratic Party:  Bhushan Dogra, Vice Chairman of the Scheduled Castes Welfare Board;  Zafar Ahmed, Vice Chairman of the Gujjar Advisory Board;  Syed Bakir Rizvi, Vice Chairman for Khadi and Village Industries Board and Nayeema Ahmed Mahjoor, Vice Chairperson Women Development Corporation.

Those from the Bhartiya Janta Party quota are:  Kuldeep Raj Gupta, Vice Chairman for the Pahari Advisory Board;  Daljeet Singh Chib, Vice Chairman of the Kissan Board and Nirmal Kamal, Vice Chairperson of the Social Welfare Board.

Interestingly on January 29, Information Department released a handout for BJP’s Kuldeep Raj Gupta mentioning him as Vice Chairman of Pahari Advisory Board. This clearly suggested that the government officials are still reporting to the Vice Chairpersons as there is no clarity whether their offices legally exist or not. The Information Department’s handout number No: PR/DI/16/8174/ said: “Vice Chairman State Advisory Board for Development of Pahari Speaking People, Kuldeep Raj Gupta has appreciated the move of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for raising five more battalions of India Reserve Police in the state. Gupta said that this decision will work in multiple ways to curb the problem of unemployment in the state and also in getting a chance to serve the nation. With this recruitment, new era of development will also take place resulting in making the life more easy and comfortable for people of the far-flung areas who suffer due to lack of development in their areas”.


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