JEHANGIR ALI | 19 FEBRUARY, 2017
Two Ministers Miffed Over 'Demotion' Quit Mufti's Cabinet
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is likely to accept the resignation of two senior cabinet colleagues who were upset and stepped down last week after a minor cabinet reshuffle.
Well placed sources said Mufti, who will leave for Saudi Arabia on February 24 to perform Umrah, is likely to accept the resignation of her colleagues, Imran Reza Ansari and Basharat Bukhari, who were reportedly upset with their “low-key” ministerial portfolios.
While Ansari, who represents north Kashmir’s Pattan constituency, is the Sports Minister, Bukhari, who is third time MLA from Sangrama constituency, was Revenue Minister. He was given the ‘insignificant’ Horticulture Ministry in last week’s cabinet reshuffle.
Sources said Ansari, who is an influential Shia leader, had told the Chief Minister that he was unable to serve his people under the ministry allocated to him, “I am not only an MLA but a leader of a community which is spread across the state,” he had told the party high command, asking for a ‘better portfolio’.
The crisis of sorts in the government was sparked soon after Altaf Bukhari, a businessman turned politician, was administered the oath of office on Friday after being kept out of the cabinet headed by Mehbooba Mufti for nearly a year.
Bukhari, who represents Srinagar’s Amira Kadal constituency, was Public Works minister when the state was led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Later on Friday, the state’s General Administration Department announced a change in portfolios of some senior ministers with Bukhari getting the portfolio of Education which was with Naeem Akhtar who got the Public Works Ministry. Dr Haseeb Drabu, the architect of the PDP-BJP coalition, was relieved of the Culture Ministry.
Within hours after the announcement, Ansari submitted his resignation who was followed by Basharat Bukhari, “I have written in detail the reasons for my resignation in my letter to the Chief Minister and I am under oath not to disclose those reasons,” Bukhari told The Citizen. Sources said he was upset with allocation of the ‘insignificant’ Horticulture Ministry.
Three senior PDP leaders including Mehbooba Mufti’s uncle and PDP vice-president, Sartaj Madni, met the two ministers on Saturday, urging them to reconsider their decision. However, they have reportedly turned down their pleas.
Mufti, sources said, is likely to send their resignation letters to the Governor NN Vohra after she returns from Umrah. “The changes made in the cabinet is an oblique message that no one is above the party and no party member is indispensable,” a senior PDP leader said.