With an agenda to discuss the pending expansion of the Punjab cabinet, AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi is meeting Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who was asked to cut short his trip abroad to attend Saturday’s meeting, has already landed in Delhi. Asha Kumari, Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab, and AICC secretary Harish Choudhary would also be present during the discussions, a Congress source said. He said Rahul wanted all these leaders in the meeting.
Amarinder had inducted nine ministers in his Cabinet on March 16, the day he took oath of office. With rules allowing Punjab to have only 18 ministers in an Assembly of 117 members, eight ministers can be inducted.
Lobbying for a Cabinet berth has already been going on in the Congress. Sources said the probables include Rakesh Pandey, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, OP Soni, Surinder Dawar, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Balbir Sidhu and Gurpreet Kangar.
“These are the names which have emerged during internal party discussions. It remains to be seen who all will be chosen,” said a Congress leader considered close to Amarinder.
He said with only nine other ministers, Amarinder was saddled with many departments. Also, there was pressure from his aides to expand the cabinet.
Sources also said there was a demand from within the party to change the portfolio of Irrigation and Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh ever since he was caught up in sand mining row. Irrigation department deals with sand deposited by rivers that swell during monsoons. The sand is to be removed by the irrigation department to ensure it does not create an impediment in flow of water for irrigation.
“It is not known whether the leaders will raise this issue in front of Rahul or not. If it comes to changing his portfolio, some other portfolios too will be changed,” said a leader.