Jammu and Kashmir gets first woman CM in Mehbooba

Jammu, April 4 (IANS) PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday took oath as Jammu and Kashmir’s first woman chief minister heading a 22-member coalition ministry with the BJP — and in no time attended office.

Mehbooba Mufti, 56 and now a Lok Sabha member, was sworn in by Governor N.N. Vohra at Raj Bhavan here, almost three months after the state came under Governor’s Rule on January 8.

The Peoples Democratic Party has nine cabinet and three junior ministers — the chief minister included — and the Bharatiya Janata Party has eight cabinet and two junior ministers in the new government.

BJP leader Nirmal Singh remains the deputy chief minister.

Constitutionally, the Jammu and Kashmir council of ministers cannot have more than 25 members.

Mehbooba Mufti drove to the civil secretariat in Jammu that houses the offices of the chief minister, ministers and top bureaucrats.

There, she was presented a guard of honour by the state armed police in the presence of Director General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar.

The chief minister is likely to chair her first cabinet meeting later in the day.

The new coalition takes office after three months of political uncertainty sparked by the death on January 7 of then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

The PDP dropped two cabinet ministers — Altaf Bukhari and Javaid Mustafa Mir and inducted three-time legislator Zahoor Mir.

The other new face brought in as a junior minister by the PDP is Farooq Andrabi, who defeated state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir from Dooru constituency.

The BJP dropped cabinet minister Chaudary Sukhnandan and brought in his place Shyam Lal Chaudhary. The BJP also dropped a junior minister, Pawan Gupta.

Ajay Anand, a BJP legislator from Reasi constituency, took oath as a junior minister. He is a fresh entrant.

The BJP share of cabinet ministers includes People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone, son of late separatist politician Abdul Ghani Lone.

Mehbooba Mufti is the 13th chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of State Jitendra Singh and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav attended the event. So did former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah.

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