In what may be called a great reconciliation between two politically divergent ideologies divided on regional lines, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Sunday was sworn in as state chief minister along with Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh and 23 other ministers from both PDP and BJP.
With this, there will be no possibility of any further expansion in the Mufti’s ministry as going by the strength of 87-member Legislative Assembly, there can be maximum of 25 ministers including Chief Minister in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah, former president Lal Krishan Advani, union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi, Dr Jitendra Singh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar were among various dignitaries including senior BJP and PDP leaders leaders present on the occasion.
Significantly, giving enough signals of their disapproval to the great reconciliation between different political ideologies vis a vis two regions who always looked at each other with suspicion, both the National Conference and Congress including former chief minister Omar Abdullah stayed away from the swearing in function.
Mufti’s ministerial team has 16 cabinet ministers including Deputy Chief Minister and eight ministers of state. Two nominated women MLAs were also sworn in as ministers of state. Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone too was among those newly sworn in cabinet ministers. While Mufti, Nirmal Singh and others took oath in English, Hindi and Urdu, Lal Singh took oath in Dogri.
Sources say that Mufti initially wanted to begin with a small team, but agreed to have his full team on day one. The idea behind it was to avoid any further speculations and infighting in the party.
Meanwhile, the CM's statement crediting "people from across the border" for the smooth conduct of elections in the state has created a controversy. "I want to say this on record and I have told this to the PM that we must credit the Hurriyat and militant outfits for the (smooth) conduct of elections in the state," Sayeed said at a press conference.
BJP disagrees with Mufti, credits EC, troops for polls
While the BJP central leadership said it was the efforts of the Election Commission and the security forces that ensured peaceful elections, the Congress slammed Mufti, calling his comment a cruel joke on the people of the state and the security forces. "J&K CM's statement is most unfortunate and mocks the overwhelming public mandate," said Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala. "With one stroke, the PDP-BJP alliance has taken away the credit from people of J&K for participating in historic polls, and from the EC and security agencies for conducting them. The PM and BJP must answer whether they stand by such unflinching support for Pakistan, Hurriyat and militants," Surjewala added. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who skipped the swearing-in ceremony, hit out at Mufti as well, asking the BJP to explain its stand.