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Kavinder Gupta to take oath as J&K deputy CM: Former Speaker had sparked row after remarks on Rohingya refugees

A day ahead of the scheduled Cabinet reshuffle  in the Jammu and Kashmir coalition government on Monday, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh tendered his resignation, paving the way for Kavinder Gupta to be sworn in as Singh's replacement.

"The party gave me responsibility to bring in change after three years. I'll try my best to meet expectations of people and work for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We had entered into an alliance, following people's mandate. I hope it keeps working for them," Bharatiya Janata Party's Gupta said, according to ANI.

Gupta, who represents Jammu's Gandhi Nagar, serves as the current Speaker of the state's 89-member legislative Assembly. Gupta was elected as the Speaker over two years ago in March 2015 after senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar proposed Gupta's name for the post.

 Kavinder Gupta to take oath as J&K deputy CM: Former Speaker had sparked row after remarks on Rohingya refugees

File image of Kavinder Gupta. Image courtesy: J&K Legislative Assembly

BJP's Nirmal Singh, who Gupta is set to replace on Monday, had seconded the proposal, after which Gupta was unanimously elected as Speaker in 2015.

Fifty-five-year-old Gupta won from the Gandhi Nagar constituency in the 2014 Assembly polls after defeating senior Congress leader Raman Bhalla. According to documents submitted to the Election Commission, Gupta has total assets of over Rs 2.4 crore, and liabilities of around Rs 12 lakh, and has no criminal cases registered against him.

In February, Gupta's remarks on an attack on an army camp in the state had sparked a major controversy. The Speaker claimed that the attack at Sunjwan camp in Jammu took place due to presence of Rohingya refugees in the region.

"The incident took place due to presence of Rohingyas in the area," Greater Kashmir quoted Gupta as saying.

The remarks reportedly drew sharp reaction from the Opposition, who accused him of targeting a particular community "without evidence". The Opposition then stormed the Well of the House and sat on dharnas to protest against the Speaker’s remarks, and demanded an immediate apology.

Following the pandemonium in the Assembly, Gupta was forced to expunge his own statement, a Daily Excelsior report said.

This was, however, not the first instance of Gupta expunging statements made on record in the House. In 2017, Gupta expunged the "intimidating and unparliamentary" words used by members during heated exchanges in the Assembly and had directed the media not to report them. He was ruling on a petition seeking an FIR against PDP minister Imran Ansari for comments made during a discussion on the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the state.

Gupta's support for the Central tax, however, has been widely reported on. He said the trading community will not have to go through a complex tax structure as they have got a unified tax regime in the form of GST, comprising of previous 17 indirect taxes which were collected by different agencies under the old structure. The discussion on the tax's implementation in the state continued for multiple days as BJP members supported the extension of the 101st amendment to the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 09:57:13 IST