On April 13, the day the BJP asked two cabinet ministers in J&K’s coalition government—Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga—to resign for attending a rally of the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM), the party had, in fact, asked all its ministers to resign. Lal Singh and Ganga’s resignation letters were swiftly sent to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and they were dropped the next day from the Council of Ministers. The CM had raised the issue of their attending the March 1 rally of the HEM with the prime minister. The rally had been organised to demand the release of those accused of an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl’s rape and murder in Kathua this January.
The resignation letters of the other BJP ministers, however, remained with the party’s state president, leading many political pundits in Delhi to speculate that the BJP might part ways from the Mehbooba-led government. It took the cabinet reshuffle of April 30 to put that idea to rest. Now, it seems quite certain that alliance partners BJP and PDP are in it for the long haul, despite their political and ideological differences.
The BJP has replaced deputy CM Nirmal Singh with Kavinder Gupta, who was the Speaker of the assembly. Refraining from echoing the position of most BJP leaders in the state, who have been asking for the Kathua case to be handed over to the CBI, Singh had toed the PDP line, saying the case is sub-judice and it’s for the court to decide. A history professor at the University of Jammu, he had started his political career with the student organisation, the ABVP, and served as a BJP general secretary before being elected from Basholi assembly constituency of Jammu division in 2014, and was appointed the deputy CM in March 2015.
In 2006, Singh participated in a three-day conference on...