Azad Cabinet expansion: PDPís Beig may be deputy chief minister
6 November 2007
The Indian Express
Jammu: †Jammu-Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seems to have finally made up his mind on the much-delayed expansion of his Cabinet council. The expansion is likely to see the induction of PDP heavyweight Muzaffar Hussain Beig as the coalition governmentís Deputy Chief Minister. But, chances of women getting berths seem remote. Sources said both the Congress and the PDP have reached a consensus over the impending cabinet expansion, though it is essentially the prerogative of the CM to have the final round of expansion in the ministry. The expansion also assumes significance given that Assembly elections are due anytime next year. At present, Azadís 21-member council has one berth of the rank of Cabinet from the Peopleís Democratic Party and three berths (one Cabinet and two ministers of state) from the Congress lying vacant. Both parties are believed to have considered the choice of names for the induction. Azad is likely to induct two Congress legislators from Jammu and one from Kashmir into his ministry. The PDP high command, it has been learnt, has also made up its mind to finally have Beig reinducted in the Cabinet. Beig, who held the important portfolios of Finance and Planning was recalled by the party high command last in September. Incidentally, after assuming power in November 2005, Azad took only 13 ministers from both parties as per their quota. But, in the meantime, he has managed to pass an Act that effectively restricts the number of ministers to be inducted in any government in the state henceforth, not beyond 25.