Team Omar Gains Weight With 13 New Entries

11 July 2009
Rising Kashmir

Srinagar: The much awaited cabinet expansion in the six-month old coalition government headed by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Saturday was full of surprises. Eight MLAs were inducted as cabinet ministers, two as Ministers of State with Independent Charge and three others as Ministers of State. Most of the hopefuls from both National Conference and Congress appeared shocked as the council of ministers in the Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress coalition government was expanded from 10 to 23 leaving two berths vacant. They include Chowdhary Ramzan, MLA Handwara, Muhammad Sharief Nyaz, MLA Bhadarwah, Mir Saifullah, MLA Kupwara and Congress crony Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen among others. Following the oath taking ceremony that was held in SKICC the chief minister attempted to comfort some broken hearts by saying, “The process (of expansion) is still on, we’ve have two berths vacant.” Governor Narender Nath Vohra administered the oath of office and secrecy to all 13 ministers including the only female member Sakina Itoo at a function at SKICC here. The ceremony was attended among others by Union Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti, State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand. Among the eight cabinet ministers, senior NC leader and MLA Kargil Qamar Ali Akhoon was the first to be administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor. Other cabinet ministers who were administered oath from the NC were MLA Noorabad, Sakina Itoo; MLA Gulabgarh, Abdul Gani Malik and MLA Budgam, Aga Syed Ruhullah and from Congress it was MLC from RS Pura, Rajinder Singh Chib; MLA Gandhi Nagar, Raman Bhalla and MLA Inderwal, G M Saroori. Democratic Party (Nationalist) President and MLA Tangmarg, Ghulam Hassan Mir was also inducted in the ministry in the Congress quota. Congress MLA from Gool Arnas, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and Congress MLA from Bilawar, Manohar Lal Sharma were administered oath as Ministers of State with Independent charge. Congress MLA from Rajouri, Shabir Ahmad Khan; NC MLA from Amira Kadal Nasir Aslam Wani (Sogami) and NC MLA from Rafiabad, Javaid Ahmad Dar were administered oath as Ministers of State (MoS). Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the oath taking function at SKICC, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said both coalition partners were satisfied with the arrangement of ministries. “The process has not ended here. We’ve kept two seats vacant for future,” he said. “We’ve accommodated seniors and new faces as well.” On why anybody did not represent Kupwara district, Omar said he won’t comment on individual cases. Interesting to see were first timers of NC camp. MLA Amira Kadal, Nasir Aslam Wani (Sogami) said: “I’m very happy to see myself among the people who have been assigned the job to serve people. Today, huge responsibility has come on my shoulders,” Wani told Rising Kashmir. MLA Rafiabad, Javaid Ahmad Dar said: “It was my dream to see himself as the people’s representative. People elected me for a bigger role. Today is the happiest day of my life. I’ll try my best to do justice to the portfolio that will be assigned to me.” Meanwhile, opposition leader and Peoples Democratic Party President, Mahbooba Mufti termed the cabinet expansion as a welcome development. “It is good that the cabinet has been expanded. We hope things will come to normal and State will witness development,” Mahbooba told reporters. Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah; Legislative Assembly Speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone; former union minister and State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz; Finance Minister, Abdur Rahim Rather; Education Minister, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed; Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Ali Muhammad Sagar; Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad; Minister for PHE and Irrigation, Taj Mohi-ud-Duin; Health Minister, Sham Lal Sharma; Industries and Commerce Minister Surjit Singh Slathia; Deputy Chairman Legislative Council, A S Micky and senior civil and police officers also attended the oath taking ceremony.