Srinagar: Minister Sajjad Gani Lone has refused to be a part of the Council of Ministers in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP Government in J&K as he was allotted “insignificant” portfolios.
Mufti distributed the portfolios among his ministers on Tuesday evening, after three days of talks between the PDP and BJP leadership.
The Chief Minister allotted Science and Technology and Animal Husbandry to the 47-year-old separatist leader-turned-politician, who was inducted into the state Cabinet from the BJP quota.
However, Sajjad, who won the Assembly election from Handwara seat, stayed away from discharging his duties as a minister at the Civil Secretariat on Wednesday.
“He has threatened to quit the Ministry if he is not given a better portfolio. He has also surrendered security, official vehicle and other facilities given to him as a Cabinet Minister,” a source said. He added that Sajjad left for Srinagar on Wednesday.
The Minister’s brother is the executive member of the separatist Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, while his wife Asma is a Pakistani and the daughter of a JKLF leader.
The former separatist leader defeated a National Conference Minister from Handwara by a big margin in The state Assembly elections.
“He should have been given an important portfolio rather than dumping him in Animal Husbandry department,” a source from Sajjad’s party the People’s Conference said.
Sources said the BJP leadership had informed Sajjad that he would be given charge of the Animal Husbandry department before the distribution of portfolios on Tuesday. “He got very angry over it and told the saffron party that he wouldn’t take charge of such a portfolio and threatened to quit the ministry,” he said.
In order to persuade him to remain in the Cabinet, the Science and Technology portfolio was also given to him.
“The allotment of two low key portfolios has not gone well with Sajjad and he has arrived in the Valley to hold a discussion with party leaders, who are very hurt,” a PC leader said.
He said the PC was considering the course of action to be taken and has requested Sajjad not to take charge of insignificant portfolios. “Sajjad has not resigned yet. The party will meet soon to discuss the issue and take appropriate decision,” he said.
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