- Kavinder Gupta's comments have raised questions
- The rejig was blamed on the massive criticism of previous ministers
- Mr Gupta replaced Nirmal Singh as Deputy Chief Minister
"Rasana is a chhoti si baat (minor issue)... We have to think this should never happen again and the child gets justice. There are many challenges like this facing the government. We should not give Rasana so much bhaav (importance)," Mr Gupta told reporters.
The comment was received with shock and disbelief after a revamp that was linked widely to the outrage over the BJP's former ministers participating in a rally in support of the men arrested for kidnapping, drugging, gang-raping and murdering the child in Kathua's Rasana village.
All eight accused are Hindu while the little girl belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe.
BJP leader Ram Madhav asserted that the cabinet changes had no connection with Kathua. "Our government has completed three years in power so we decided to have a reshuffle in the cabinet and give an opportunity to new faces," he told reporters.
2 BJP ministers removed in J&K for attending a pro-rapist rally & a MLA who is reported to have attended the same rally is promoted as a minister. Why are the BJP/ @MehboobaMufti confused about where they stand on the #Kathua rape?- Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 30, 2018
Kavinder Gupta, 59, an old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hand, replaced Nirmal Singh as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's number 2. Mr Gupra joined the BJP's ideological mentor RSS when he was 13. He was elected to the state assembly for the first time in 2014.
Apart from him, state BJP chief Sat Paul Sharma and six others were sworn in as ministers. Two are from Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP).