Two Punjab Cabinet Ministers, who were a part of a delegation that met senior AICC leader Ahmed Patel against their Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu last week, managed to get their close aides named as chairpersons of two important Improvement Trusts in their home districts.
The state government appointed Raman Balasubramanium, a close aide of Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu as chairperson of Improvement Trust in his hometown Ludhiana. Also, Sant Lal Banga, a close aide of Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra was appointed chairman of Patiala Improvement Trust. Mohindra belongs to Patiala. Both the ministers were a part of a delegation that met Patel last week.
Tourism and Culture Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was also a part of the delegation. A known critic of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh earlier, he jumped to Amarinder’s side after a woman IAS officer complained against him for having sent her an inappropriate text. He was able to weather the controversy and retain his berth in the Cabinet.
The government has also appointed Dinesh Bassi as chairperson of Amritsar Improvement Trust. Bassi is considered close to Mines Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria. Daljit Singh Ahluwalia, former district president of Jalandhar Congress has been appointed as chairman of Jalandhar Improvement Trust.
Interestingly, Sidhu had soon after taking over as Local Bodies Minister two years ago, relieved the chairpersons of all 28 Improvement Trusts in the state.
The appointment of chairpersons to Improvement Trusts is also a blow to Chief Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Suresh Kumar, who was advocating dissolving of Improvement Trusts across the state on the plea that these were proving to be white elephants as most of the public works in the cities were taken care of by municipal bodies. Kumar is on leave for a month. The appointment of chairpersons has been done in his absence.
Sources said the decision had to be taken as the political leadership of the ruling party had been upset over not getting positions in the government. On the other hand, a number of bureaucrats have been accommodated after their retirement.