Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asked all its ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir government to resign but Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti rushed to clarify that the BJP is not pulling the plug, reported PTI.
BJP asks its ministers in Jammu and Kashmir government to resign to bring in new faces in CM Mehbooba Mufti's Cabinet: party sources.
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 17, 2018
The official version is that a reshuffle has been in the works for some time now but clearly, the political stakes have changed dramatically after protests over the horror of an 8-year-old being raped and murdered in Kathua.
Sources said BJP strategist Ram Madhav told local BJP ministers to send in their resignations during meetings last week when two ministers quit the Mehbooba Mufti government.
Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power with BJP support. The BJP has 25 legislators in the 89-seat Jammu and Kashmir Assembly; PDP, the largest group, has 28 legislators.
Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga quit last week after outrage brutal rape and murder" over their speeches supporting the prime accused in the rape and murder. Both ministers spouted praise for the prime accused at a rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch on 1 March.
Singh and Ganga were asked to resign on 14 April as protests broke out across India's cities over two rape cases that were at once brutal and chilling.
Sources said the en-masse resignation of BJP ministers came after a meeting chaired by party vice president Avinash Rai Khanna in Jammu. PDP sources told IANS the resignations of the BJP ministers are a prelude to a BJP rejig in the state legislature.
Any intra-party resistance to a complete makeover melted away as protests against the rape, torture and murder of an 8-year-old child stunned and galvanised Indians to march on the streets demanding justice. PTI reported that several party leaders were lobbying for fresh faces in the Mehbooba cabinet even as some in the party were in the favour of giving the two former ministers a second chance.
In a meeting of party leaders headed by national general secretary Ram Madhav on Sunday in Jammu, both Singh and Ganga were reportedly they could make a comeback if an internal party probe found they went to Kathua "to secure the interests of the party and the government".
Those in contention for cabinet berths include Speaker Kavinder Gupta, RS Pura MLA Dr Gagan Bhagat and Kathua MLA Rajeev Jasrotia. The party is also considering inducting BJP state president Sat Sharma, who is completing his three-year term in December. A final decision will likely be taken only after a thumbs up from Amit Shah.
Both the alliance partners — the BJP and the PDP — had separate meetings in Srinagar and Jammu on Saturday to discuss the political fallout after the Kathua murder. There are three vacancies in the council of ministers after the PDP last month removed its finance minister Haseeb Drabu unceremoniously.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Apr 17, 2018 22:58:11 IST