J&K: Ahead of Cabinet reshuffle today, Nirmal Singh resigns as dy CM

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta will be the new deputy chief minister, a BJP leader said.

Jammu: Ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle today, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on Sunday resigned from the Mehbooba Mufti government in Jammu and Kashmir to pave way for a new BJP face for the post.

"I have resigned as the Deputy Chief Minister of the government. A fresh face from the BJP will be taking over," Nirmal Singh said.

State Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta will be the new Deputy Chief Minister, a BJP leader said.

All arrangements have been put in place for the much-awaited reshuffle which is expected to take place in Jammu with the BJP expected to bring in some new faces.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra will administer the oath of office and secrecy to those being inducted into the council of ministers at the convention centre at 12 noon, an invitation for the ceremony read.

Officials said the function is being held at the convention centre instead of Raj Bhavan as Jammu and Kashmir government has already shifted its base to summer capital Srinagar as part of the bi-annual 'darbar move', under which the government functions six months each in the twin capital cities.

The Civil Secretariat, the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government, and Raj Bhavan closed on Friday and will reopen along with other move offices in Srinagar on May 7.

Ahead of the reshuffle, there was speculation that PDP ally BJP, besides filling up two vacancies, is likely to induct some new faces in the council of ministers by dropping others. A senior BJP leader said was with BJP president Amit Shah who would hand it over to Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh who was in Delhi.

The BJP had on April 17 asked all its nine ministers in the PDP-BJP government in the state to submit their resignations to enable bringing in new faces in the two-year-old Mehbooba Mufti cabinet.

The party, however, had not forwarded the resignations to the Governor.

The BJP had been under pressure ever since two of its ministers -- Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga -- took part in a rally in support of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. The two ministers subsequently resigned.

There is high possibility that one or two ministers of state (MoS) could be elevated to the Cabinet rank, keeping in view their good performance, sources said.

It was not immediately known whether the PDP will also fill up the vacancy caused by the sacking of Haseeb Drabu as Finance Minister last month. Currently, the BJP has six cabinet ministers, including associate member Sajad Lone, and three minister of state in the Jammu and Kashmir government.

The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the chief minister, out of which 14 portfolios are with the PDP and the remaining with the BJP.

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