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Jammu, Jan 1 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Council of Ministers was expanded today with the induction of four ministers including two of Cabinet ranks.

The Governor Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha administered oath of office and secrecy to Mula Ram and Abdul Gani Vakil as Cabinet Ministers and Gharu Ram and G M Saroori as Ministers of State.

With this, the number of ministers in the council has risen to 25, including the Chief Minister.

However, talking to mediapersons after the oath ceremony, Mr Azad welcomed the new entrants into the council.

''We are in the election year and this is the last expansion,'' he said, adding that continuance of the ministers would depend on their performance. Portfolios of new ministers would be announced in couple of days, he informed.

Meanwhile, Mr Azad also announced that MLC Arvinder Singh Micky would be the candidate of the Congress party for the post of Deputy Chairman, Legislative Council.

''The election to the post would be held in the first week of the commencement of the Budget session of the legislature and in pursuance to the agreement between the coalition parties, the PDP candidate was elected as the Chairman of the Council while the Deputy Chairman's slot goes to the Congress party,'' he said.

However, replying to a question over the resignation of Minister of State for Finance, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Revenue, Prem Sagar Aziz, the Chief Minister said that the latter had volunteered to work for the party as its soldier.

''It was a very positive development as not many people want to leave the ministerial position and serve the party whereas Mr Sagar had approached him six months ago with the request to relieve him from the council and allow him to work for strengthening the party,'' Mr Azad said.

Besides, Mr Azad added that there was perfect coordination between the Congress and the PDP and there was no problem on this account.

UNI VBH GL PM2002

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