Mehbooba, Council of Ministry to be sworn-in on April 4

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April 1:PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will take oath as 13th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir as head of PDP-BJP coalition Government on April 4 here, ending nearly three months long political uncertainty and Governor’s rule in the State. She would become first woman Chief Minister of the State.
Top official sources told  that the date of April 4 for swearing-in ceremony of Mehbooba Mufti and her Council of Ministry was finalized during telephonic contact between top State level leaders of the two parties.
Governor NN Vohra will administer oath of office and secrecy to Mehbooba and her Council of Ministry at 4 pm on April 4, most likely at Raj Bhawan. After the oath, Vohra will sign a proclamation ending a little less than three month spell of Governor’s rule in the State.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to attend the swearing-in ceremony of PDP-BJP coalition Government.
Ahead of the formation of new Government, BJP will hold its crucial meeting here tomorrow to finalize names of the Ministers to be inducted in the Council of Ministry though there had been reports that both PDP and BJP were likely to repeat majority of faces, who were part of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led Government that lasted over 10 months and ceased to exist on January 7 with the death of Sayeed, leading to imposition of Governor’s rule in the State the next day as Mehbooba had refused to take oath immediately.
BJP general secretary and party’s pointman on Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav could attend tomorrow’s BJP meeting here, which is being held to give final touch to the Government formation including decision on party Ministers though the party could repeat majority of faces, who were part of Mufti Sayeed Government.
BJP veteran Dr Nirmal Singh would take oath as the Cabinet Minister and designated as the Deputy Chief Minister through a Government order. In the previous Government also, he was the Deputy Chief Minister.
Sources said before finalizing the date of oath ceremony, Mehbooba Mufti spoke to Dr Nirmal Singh to discuss certain aspects of the Government formation including strength and names of the Ministers. The two top leaders of their respective parties decided not to delay the formation of Government and accordingly decided April 4 as date of oath.
“Most likely, the oath ceremony will be held at Raj Bhawan and Rajnath Singh will attend it,” sources said.
The oath ceremony of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led coalition Government on March 1, 2015 was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, sources said, Modi and party president Amit Shah were busy with campaigning in the Assembly elections in five States.
“Both Alliance partners were likely to repeat majority of old faces in the Council of Ministry, which will take oath along with Mehbooba Mufti,” sources said but added that names of the Minister, who would take oath of office and secrecy along with Mehbooba, would be finalized a day ahead of the oath ceremony and communicated to Raj Bhawan.
Mufti had taken oath along with 24 Ministers including 13 from the PDP and 11 from the BJP. He had full strength of 25 Ministers, the maximum limit prescribed under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
The PDP had 10 Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State in addition to the Chief Minister while BJP had eight Cabinet Ministers and three Ministers of State.
The BJP Ministers in the previous Government included Dr Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister, Chander Prakash Ganga, Choudhary Lal Singh, Bali Bhagat, Sukhnandan Kumar, Sajjad Gani Lone (People’s Conference but a BJP ally), Chering Dorjey and Abdul Ghani Kohli, all in the Cabinet rank, Pawan Gupta, Priya Sethi and Sunil Sharma, all Ministers of State.
The PDP Ministers were Abdul Rehman Veeri, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Abdul Haq Khan, Syed Basharat Ahmad Bukhari, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, Dr Haseeb A Drabu, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Imran Raza Ansari and Naeem Akhter, all Cabinet Ministers, Abdul Majid Padder, Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Asiya Naqash, all Ministers of State.
Mehbooba Mufti will be getting nearly five years term as the Chief Minister as J&K Assembly has six years term. Mufti Sayeed had completed 10 months and a week as the head of PDP-BJP Government when he passed away on January 7. Term of the Assembly is taken into account the day MLAs take oath. The oath was held on March 16, 2015.
Mehbooba might not face tough time in the Assembly as the two coalition partners have nearly two-third majority in the Assembly and comfortable majority in the Legislative Council. PDP has 27 MLAs and support of Independent MLA from Zanskar Bakir Hussain Rizvi while BJP has 25 MLAs and support of two MLAs of People’s Conference and Independent Pawan Gupta. Anantnag Assembly seat, represented by Mufti Sayeed, is presently vacant.
Mehbooba would have to give up the membership of Lok Sabha seat from Anantnag, which she had won with a handsome margin in April-May 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The PDP had won all three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir in 2014 including Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag and emerged single largest party in the Assembly elections in the same year.
Mehbooba, who has assumed an image of a fiery leader, started her political career in 1996 by joining Congress along with her father. She remained Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in the Assembly for three years till Mufti Sayeed decided to quit Congress and float regional party, the PDP. Mehbooba resigned her Assembly seat of Bijbehara, which was won by PDP leader Abdul Rehman Veeri. Since then, Veeri had never lost Bijbehara seat.
The 56-year-old mother of two daughters, Mehbooba is also president of the PDP. She won her first Assembly election as Congress candidate from her home segment of Bijbehara in 1996. She played an active role in the PDP putting up a good show by winning 17 seats in 2002 Assembly elections i.e. within three years of the formation of Government. Mufti Sayeed became the Chief Minister leading PDP-Congress coalition Government.
Mehbooba also played a key role in her father’s victory as Congress candidate in Lok Sabha elections of 1998 when Sayeed defeated NC’s Mohammad Yousuf Taing from South Kashmir.
In 2004, Mehbooba contested and won her first Lok Sabha election, from South Kashmir.
In 2008, she contested and was returned as MLA from Wachi segment of Shopian in south Kashmir when PDP bagged 21 seats but lost power to NC-Congress coalition. She played key role in the Assembly as Leader of Opposition for six years and PDP managed to reach to the tally of 28 and emerged as single largest party, which returned Mufti Sayeed as Chief Minister but, this time, as head of PDP-BJP coalition Government.
Mehbooba has never lost an election from South Kashmir so far.
Nirmal Kumar Singh, who will become the Deputy Chief Minister, had served as Minister for Power Development and Housing and Urban Development in Mufti Sayeed Government.
He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2014 Assembly election from Billawar in Kathua district. He defeated former minister Manohar Lal Sharma of Indian National Congress by a margin of 17,975 votes.
Dr Singh has done PhD in History from Jammu University in 1988 and now serves as a professor of history in Jammu University.
Dr Nirmal Singh was born on January 22, 1956 to a humble family in Karanwara Basohli, J&K. He did his primary education in his native place. He is the youngest to his two brothers. His father was a security aide of erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh started taking active interest in political activities at a young age. He was arrested during the emergency period in 1975. After serving the ABVP as a pracharak in different parts of the country, Dr Singh returned to Jammu and joined the University of Jammu as a lecturer in the Post Graduate Department of History. Besides teaching at the department, he also took the mantle of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad state president and following a directive from the RSS joined the BJP. He was appointed the state general secretary of the party in 1998.

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