Omar Plays It Safe, Defers Cabinet Reshuffle Again20 June 2011
Srinagar: The much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle in Jammu and Kashmir has proved once again that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Congress President Sonia Gandhi are no risk takers. By deferring change in portfolios of some ministers and inducting a few new faces in state cabinet, the duo squandered an opportunity to rein in on administrative apparatus and send out a clear message to coalition members that they will not tolerate non-performance. Non-performers, who were expected to be shown exit , are still holding important portfolios Though it was expected that the ruling National Conference-Congress coalition in the state will see major changes in the cabinet soon after the panchayat elections are over, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah seems to be in no mood to go for this much awaited exercise, at least in near future. The government is almost two-and-half years old and there have so far been no changes in the ministry. 'Changes in the cabinet are overdue. Changes would be effected after the panchayat elections are over,' Mohan Prakash, Congress Working Committee member in-charge of the state, had reporters here. He also hinted that the party would like to have 'fresh faces' in the ministry. Some of the Congress ministers have attracted adverse reactions following corruption allegations. There is also a vacancy for a Congress minister after Ghulam Mohammad Saroori was removed from the cabinet following a controversy over his daughter's medical entrance examination last year. Certain quarters attribute deferment of cabinet reshuffle to the huge list of aspirants among both the coalition partners adding that chances of dropping an equal number of incumbents is almost impossible. Some even suggest that reshuffle before Omar completes three years in office is unlikely as many important congress functionaries have already started strong campaign for mid-term change of guard. “ What is important is the composition of the cabinet and many leaders in Congress including top brass leaders in New-Delhi favour change in composition of J&K cabinet which is not possible without change of guard” said sources privy to 10 Janapath in Delhi. They added that a good number of NC aspirants do favour change in composition which will suit them as for getting birth in cabinet is concerned. However, a senior congress leader and minister in Omar led coalition says composition of the ministry will remain as it is right now. “Cabinet reshuffle is due, one cannot deny that but change in the composition is very unlikely” he said. Whatever the reasons, the overdue and much awaited reshuffle is being deliberately delayed by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Congress high command to avoid any immediate friction between and within the coalition partners.