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J&K cabinet expanded

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
January 01, 2008 21:40 IST
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The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet was expanded on Tuesday with the induction of two more Cabinet ministers and two junior ministers.

All new inductees belong to the Congress party.

State Governor Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha administered oath of office and secrecy to Congress leaders Abdul Gani Vakil and Mula Ram as ministers of Cabinet rank while Gharu Ram and G M Saroori were sworn in as ministers of state.

The expansion comes in the wake of re-induction of senior Peoples Democratic Party leader Muzaffar Hussain Baigh as the deputy chief minister last month who was recalled into the cabinet after one year.

The state is going to polls later this year to elect representatives to the 87 member legislative assembly.

With Tuesday's expansion, the strength of ministers in the Congress-PDP alliance government has risen to 25.

Another minister of state, Prem Sagar Aziz, however, resigned from the council of ministers, as he has been asked by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to attend to party affairs.

Later, talking to media persons, Azad welcomed the new cabinet colleagues in his council of ministers.

Asked if Tuesday expansion was the last before the assembly elections, Azad said, "We are in the election year and this is the last expansion. There is perfect coordination between Congress and the PDP. There is no problem on this account."

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar