Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday forwarded the resignations of two BJP ministers — who had participated in a rally supporting people arrested for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua — to the State Governor N N Vohra for acceptance. Chander Parkash Ganga and Choudhary Lal Singh were asked to resign by the BJP high command after the party faced criticism for not taking action against them. Ganga holds Industries and Commerce portfolio while Lal Singh holds Forests portfolio in the state cabinet.
The two ministers had supported the demand for a CBI enquiry into the gang rape and murder of the Bekarwal girl. On March 1, addressing a rally of Hindu Ekta Manch in Hiranagar, Ganga had hit out at Kathua SSP for arresting people “at will”, saying they will “not allow the jungle raj to continue.” Meanwhile, Lal Singh had urged people to launch an agitation for seeking CBI inquiry. BJP MLAs Rajiv Jasrotia from Kathua and Kuldeep Raj from Hiranagar were also present at the rally.
The ministers had tendered their resignation to party’s state president Sat Sharma on Friday and it was forwarded by him to the Chief Minister on Saturday. The ministers, however, clarified on Saturday that they were sent for the protest march by party state president Sat Sharma. They had on Saturday reiterated their demand for a CBI inquiry into the matter.
Senior BJP leaders said by rallying behind the supporters of the alleged rape-and-murder accused, the ministers has damaged the real reason for which they were voted to power in 2014 Assembly elections – securing interests of people in Jammu region. According to sources, the party will submit a report on the alleged roles of Ganga and Lal Singh to party president Amit Shah within 15 days.
Earlier, on Saturday, party national general secretary Ram Madhav asked senior party leaders to look into the matter after both the former ministers’ submitted that they had gone there to secure interests of the party and the government by pacifying Hindus, who were migrating from their native places after the Crime Branch arrested some Hindus during inquiry into the rape-and-murder case. On Saturday, Madhav convened a meeting of party legislators and ministers here and pointed out that the party’s state secretary Vijay Sharma, who led the Hindu Ekta Manch, was no longer a BJP office bearer. He said though the ministers had not opposed a Crime Branch inquiry into the matter, there was some indiscretion on their part in handling the situation.
Meanwhile, the resignation of Singh and Ganga led to lobbying within the BJP for induction into the state cabinet. Sources said that Madhav had on Saturday said that these two vacancies will be filled by new faces from within the party.