Congress veterans vie for place in Hooda’s cabinet

With most of the Congress MLAs appeased — as ministers,Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) and chairpersons of boards and corporations — the race to grab the two vacant seats in the cabinet headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda has narrowed down to only a dozen “left out” party veterans.

Written by MUKESH BHARDWAJ | Chandigarh | Updated: April 16, 2014 1:11 pm

With most of the Congress MLAs appeased — as ministers,Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) and chairpersons of boards and corporations — the race to grab the two vacant seats in the cabinet headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda has narrowed down to only a dozen “left out” party veterans.

There still is an ample scope to supplement the list of CPSs before the state goes to elections next year even as renovation of certain ministerial rooms in the secretariat has fuelled the possibility of expansion to fill the vacant cabinet berths in the near future. And with the party high command being known to play a major role in the expansion,majority of the aspirants are making their efforts at the central level.

Interestingly,the appointments of chairpersons to various boards and corporations might have appeased the junior level Congress legislators,but the same has increased the itch among the seniors who are still waiting for their “political adjustment”. Recently,following pressure from within the party,Hooda made 13 appointments to different boards and corporations. This helped accommodate some senior leaders alongwith four MLAs who are now out of the race to fill the two cabinet seats,which turned vacant after OP Jain and Gopal Goyal Kanda resigned following their names cropping up in separate criminal cases.

The Congress could win only 40 seats in the last Assembly elections but was able to form the government with the support of all the seven Independent candidates out of whom four were made ministers — two of them Jain and Kanda later had to resign. The remaining three were accommodated as CPSs. Later,Hooda also got support of five Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) MLAs. Of five,two were given ministerial berths and two CPS posts. The present cabinet has 12 members including the chief minister and can be expanded to 14. The government has 11 CPSs and four MLAs have been given the posts of chairpersons of boards. One MLA,Kuldeep Sharma,is the Speaker. It takes the total number of Congress legislators already holding positions to 28.

Among those leading the race for the ministerial berth is Speaker Kuldeep Sharma. Hooda’s friends Venod Sharma,Anand Singh Dangi,Bharat Bhushan Batra and Raghuvir Sigh Kadian are also trying hard to secure a place in the cabinet. Savitri Jindal,mother of Kurukshetra MP,Naveen Jindal is also in the race as is Sampat Singh,who dumped the INLD for Congress,after being promised a ministerial berth.

Sources said,Aftab Ahmed,whose name figured in the land deal involving UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra,was also promised a cabinet seat and is still awaiting the same.

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