September 22, 2021 6:24:21 am
TO ENSURE that they choose only popular leaders as Cabinet ministers in Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s Cabinet, the Congress high command is taking into consideration the surveys of all ministers in former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet.
The party is yet to finalise the names of Congress MLAs who would be inducted into the Cabinet even as Channi, his two deputies and PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu met Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni and general secretary incharge Harish Rawat in two separate meetings in Delhi.
A source privy to the development said,”The high command had already got surveys done of all MLAs. They are now trying to make sure that only those MLAs are inducted into the Cabinet, who are popular and are not tainted. This makes the task a little tougher and the Cabinet expansion is being delayed.”
Sources said that an opinion in the Congress was that most of the ministers in Amarinder’s Cabinet should be reinducted so that there are are no more red faces in the party ahead of 2022 elections. “The high command is, however, very clear. They do not want anyone who has allegations of corruption against him. Also, they are armed with surveys. They do not want anyone who may not win the next election. They want all ministers to be popular and not facing anti-incumbency,” a source said.
“We will take a decision on the new Punjab cabinet very soon,” Rawat said when asked about the pending exercise after the change of guard in the state.
The delegation of CM was still in Delhi and was in a meeting with Rawat till the filing of this report. They would be reaching Golden Temple in Amritsar at 5 am on Wednesday where they have to pay obeisance after Channi’s taking over as CM. They are putting up a show of strength with all party MLAs being asked to reach the religious place at 3:30 am.
The CM and others will fly to Amritsar directly and go back to Delhi to meet senior Congress leader K C Venugopal. He would finalise the list that would yet require a clearance from Rahul Gandhi, who is in Shimla and may go back to Delhi on Wednesday. “Even if he does not, the list can be run past him verbally.”
Sources said that even if Rahul clears the list on Wednesday, the ministers would not be able to take an oath before Thursday. “The Raj Bhawan wants a prior notice of at least 24 hours as they would have to make an arrangement of at least 150 guests if 15 ministers take oath,” a source said. The Cabinet can have 18 ministers in all, including the CM, in a house of 117 legislators.
The CM and others had been preparing a list of probables till the early hours of Tuesday.
As the Cabinet expansion is getting delayed, the party leaders are getting restive. A number of leaders said they should have announced the name by now. “We are faced with paddy procurement immediately. It should start from October 1. The government needs to prepare fast. Otherwise it will be a challenge,” a party leader said.
DHIMAN issues ULTIMATUM
As the party is in the process of finalising the names of Cabinet ministers, Amargarh MLA Surjit Dhiman on Tuesday gave an ultimatum that if the party would not name at least two Backward Class leaders in the Cabinet, he would resign from the Assembly. “I will resign if the BCs do not get a representation this time,” he said.
ANOTHER GEN SECY in PPCC
Along with Pargat Singh, the Congress on Tuesday named another leader, Joginder Pal Dhingra, as party general secretary of PPCC. Pargat was already a general secretary and incharge of PPCC. Dhingra was a general secretary in former PPCC chief Partap Bajwa’s team as well. Gulzar Singh Chahal, son of retired Punjab Police officer Harinder Singh Chahal, has been named the treasurer of the PPCC. He is considered close to Sidhu.
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