The Kashmir Scenario Exclusive
Recently, in a major reshuffle of his four-year-old ministry, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah dropped 6 NC ministers in first Cabinet reshuffle with an eye on 2014 electoral battle.
Pertinently, Seven new faces from National Conference, including the speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, were inducted into the ministry after six ministers, including close aide of CM NasirAslamWani, who was holding five portfolios, resigned. Congress too, dropped a senior minister, but inducted three new faces in the council of ministry.
The Ministers who took over their responsibilities included Minister for Higher Education, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Minister for Planning and Development, Labour and Employment, Ajay Sadhotra, Minister for Tourism, Gh. Ahmed Mir; Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs , Mir Saif-ullaha; Minister of State Science & Information Technology (Independent charge), Medical Education, School Education, Youth Services and Sports; Feroz Khan and Minister of State Animal & Sheep Husbandry (Independent charge) PHE, Irrigation, Flood Control, Horticulture, Agriculture and Floriculture, Nazir Gurezi; MoS Home Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo .
The Kashmir Scenario attempts a detailed analysis on the big development from ground zero.
The Omer Abdullah led coalition Government started its journey from the year 2009. Since then the government has always been criticised of corruption and human rights violations. These allegations have come not only from the opposition parties but also from many civil and Human right groups. The first incident which shook the coalition government came in the year 2009 when, the Tragedic incident of “Rape and Murder” happened in the Shopian district. The government was accused of putting an end to the investigation. While the Shopian case was still fresh in the minds of people, Kashmir witnessed a wide spread killing of Kashmiri youths at the hands of Police and CRPF in the year 2010. At that time the government assured investigation and punishment to all those who will be proved guilty, but all those investigations are still pending and many such investigation failed on the ground of lack of Proof, as in the case of Tufail Ahmad Mattoo.
In the year 2011, the chief Minister was accused of getting a party fixer, Haji Syed Mohammad Yusuf Shah murdered. The commission exonerated Omar and his aides and instead held two police personnel, a deputy Superintendent of Police- Bashir Ahmad and a constable Nazir Ahmad, responsible for not discharging their duties properly.
The commission said Shah had died of heart attack and no suspicious circumstances could be spelt out. Shah was called at Omar’s residence to confirm the allegations of taking money from two NC workers for fetching them berths in Legislative Council and the state council of minister. Omar had reportedly handed him over to the crime branch on Sept 29, 2011 where he died in mysterious condition.
After completing 4 yrs of service in Dark and light, the government, keeping in view the upcoming 2014 elections and also the reputation it has generated in the eyes of the people of the state, dropped six National Conference and one Congress ministers from his present council. They included NasirAslamWani, S.S. Slathia, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Abdul Gani Malik, Aga Syed RuhullahMehadi and Javid Ahmed Dar – all National Conference, besides R S Chib of Congress who had been a member of the State Legislative Council.
Apart from giving a new look to his government, the entire reshuffle exercise, sources said, was aimed at satisfying the aspirations MLAs who had been complaining of government discrimination to their areas for want of any representation in the ministry. While doing so, the Chief Minister retained most of his senior cabinet colleagues and veteran National Conference leaders in his ministerial team.
The decision taken in the cabinet reshuffle also had surprises, with the dropping of Chief Minister’s political advisor DevenderRana, who enjoyed the status of minister of state, and Minister of State for Home NasirAslamWani. Both were considered very close to Omar Abdullah and they always had a say in all important matters of administration due to their close proximity to him.
Terming the recent reshuffle in the state Cabinet and the National Conference cadres a part of preparations for the 2014 assembly polls, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said “it was not to show any body inferior”. It was difficult for me to decide about choosing ministers– and their selection –What I did I have no regret– it was not to show any body inferior– change was aimed towards 2014 elections,” he said.
While omer Abdullah takes the recent re-shuffle as a positive note keeping in view the upcoming 2014 elections, some sections inside the national conference camp are unhappy over the decision.
Where on one side Omar was making reference to reports on some leaders who were disappointed for being asked to take over command of party affairs from ministerial posts and some being unhappy over the failure to get a Cabinet berth, on the other side senior Congress leader from the Chenab Valley and former R&B Minister G M Saroori blamed the state Congress President Saif-ud-Din Soz for being responsible for his exclusion from the reshuffled state cabinet. He further accused Soz of weakening the party in the state, and said that he become victim of a conspiracy and was been deceived by his own party.”
In order to analyse the hope and reaction to the recent re-shuffle, Malik Sajid; Editor-In-Chief of The Kashmir Scenario interacted with some experts to know there opinion and also with some newly induced ministers to know the strategy they will follow for the remaining two years.
Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Minister for tourism in an exclusive interaction stated, “Tourism is a key sector of the economy of the state .But I would like to make it clear that the people have to continuously provide us with peaceful atmosphere and people associated with this trade have a special part in projecting Kashmir as a hospitable destination. In our Part, the Tourism Ministry would make all efforts to attract tourists to the state.”
Minister for R&B and Mechanical Engineering, Abdul Majeed Wani Stated, “There is a sea of expectations among the people after the cabinet reshuffle. We will strive very hard with the help of Allmighty to fulfill the expectations of masses. One has to bear in mind that all of us have to be realistic while displaying our duties. One cannot also deny the fact that there is a perception that BEACON is performing brightly when compared to a vast Department like R&B. Actually, a lot of commitments have been made in the past which have not matched factual results of ground.”
MOS (Independent Charge) of Technical Education, Minister of State for Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs, Rural Development and Panchayats, Social Welfare, Power, Hospitality & Protocol, Information and Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution; Viqar Rasool stated,”We will introduce an era of work culture especially in the Technical & Medical Education. In this regard, we will work day and night .The ministry would also go all out to upgrade the Polytechnic colleges and I have setup the committee to look into the dynamics and paradigms related to functioning of these colleges .To introduce new streams, uplifting the existing infrastructure, to study the more comprehensive model of polytechnic colleges would be my priority.”
MOS (Independent Charge) of Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Minister of State for PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Horticulture, Agriculture & Floriculture; Nazir Ahmed Khan (Gurezi) Stated, “Our efforts would be mainly directed towards ushering peace and prosperity in the state. The ministry would look the actual reach of water schemes and improve its availability especially in the far flung areas. There is also a dire need to improve the overall health of Animal Husbandry Department and achieve self –sufficiency in the livestock. We will also introduce latest breeds so as to increase production.”
MOS (Independent Charge) of Industries & Commerce, Minister of State for Home, R&B and Mechanical Engineering, Housing & Urban Development, Tourism & Culture; Sajad Ahmed Kichloo Stated, “I believe biggest priority is to ensure that basic amenities are delivered to masses. We need to work hard on ground to make the life of people easier. We also need to make the Police Department very much people friendly. In this relation, a conducive atmosphere has to be created for which we would undertake different activities to improve police-public relation. The biggest prerequisite for peace in the state is a friendly relation between masses and police.”
While talking to another newly induced Minister for Higher Education, Mohammad Akbar Lone Minister who has also been the former Speaker of the State Assembly said-“Only time will tell how efficiently I would be able to deliver in the coming times. My doors are always open for the common masses so that their problems get readdressed in a timely manner. I am quite positive that I would aptly fulfil the given responsibilities,”
Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, Mohammad Ilyas a social activist said, “The recent Cabinet Reshuffle is a mere joke and just replacement of one corrupt face by the other corrupt face. The masses have no hope left from this corrupt setup and this cabinet reshuffle has virtually no meaning for the problem hit masses of the state,”
Another person, Imtiyaz Wani, a Businessman said, “The government has taken a good initiative to give opportunity to other young ministers, even though the time is less for them to deliver, but hope that whatever they will deliver will be good for the people of the state.”
A student of Kashmir University, Bakir Malik Said, “I think the cabinet reshuffle move by the Chief Minister is a very wise move especially for his party since the state is heading for elections next year. For a commoner like me, whoever is induced as a minister, it doesn’t matter as long as he is accountable. But these changes , have been made keeping in view the next year State Legislative Assembly elections, so that the National conference leaders who were enjoying the ministerial portfolios , will now get to work for the party and start with election campaigning. For common people, these reshuffles hardly matter now, since the govt has almost completed its tenure and a major part of its work is done or rather is incomplete. One year more is not going to do miracles or meet the expectations of people in the state.”
Thus, while many section of people in the state have almost fewer hope from the government, it has to been seen whether the new Mantra of Omer Abdullah will work and the remaining two years with almost a new team doesn’t indulge into any form of criticism or any further controversy and will be able to deliver quality work for the state in less time.