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FIERCE LOBBYING is on in the Congress to secure a berth in chief minister-designate Captain Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet. The new government will be sworn in on March 16. While sources in Congress said the party was working out a formula to give representation to all sections of society, including Dalits, women and youth, in the Cabinet, several MLAs were working overtime to find room in Amarinder’s Cabinet.
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Among the frontrunners are former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, five-time MLAs Brahm Mohindra and Rakesh Pandey. Also, there is three-time MLA Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who is part of the Majha brigade. Names of several MLAs considered close to Amarinder, including Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Rana Gurjit Singh and Dr Raj Kumar Verka, are also doing the rounds.
Sources said there was a possibility of AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi’s brigade getting representation in the Cabinet, too. The top names include IYC chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Vijay Inder Singla. Names of two Dalit leaders, including former CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, are also in the reckoning. Majha MLA Aruna Chaudhary and first-time MLA Amit Vij from Pathankot are also in the reckoning.
All eyes are also on cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, said to be the deputy chief minister-in-waiting, claimed sources, adding senior leaders are working overtime to spoil his chances.
Three senior Congress leaders, including former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former CLP leader Sunil Jakhar and former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang could not win and with senior vice-president and former finance minister Lal Singh not getting ticket, the Congress camp is abuzz that more new faces can secure a berth.
Former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, a minister in Amarinder’s Cabinet during his first tenure, is no longer an MLA. His wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa did not contest this time. His brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, who won from Qadian, is a first-timer. It remains to be seen whether the party accommodates the Bajwa family or not.