The four-month-old Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab carried out its first expansion Monday inducting five ministers, including four from Malwa region and one from Majha. Only one of the five is a second term legislator, with others being first timers.
With the fresh induction, the Bhagwant Mann-led Cabinet’s strength has reached 15. Punjab can have a maximum of 18 ministers, including the CM.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to Aman Arora, Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar, Fauja Singh Sarari, Chetan Singh Jouramajra and Anmol Gagan Mann at the Raj Bhawan here.
The first to take oath was Arora, the two time legislator from Sunam who won this year’s Assembly polls with the biggest margin of 75,277 votes. His name for the ministerial position was speculated in March too when 10 ministers were inducted by the Mann-led government. The 42-year-old had joined the AAP in 2016. He is the son of Congress leader and former Punjab minister Bhagwan Das Arora, who passed away in 2000.
The second to take oath was 61-year-old Nijjar, the MLA from Amritsar South seat, who is a radiologist by profession. In May, Nijjar was elected president of the century-old charitable-cum-educational body Chief Khalsa Diwan that runs schools, colleges, old-age homes and hospitals in Punjab. Nijjar was initially elected protem speaker before Kultar Singh Sandhwan was elected the Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha.
The 61-year-old Sarari, who represents Guru Har Sahai, is a first time MLA and had contested the Assembly polls just months after he retired as a station house officer of the Punjab Police. He belongs to the Rai Sikh community
Jouramajra (55), too, is first legislator from Samana. He is a businessman and an agriculturist.
The last to take oath was Anmol, a Punjabi singer and first time MLA from Kharar. Anmol had joined AAP in the 2020 and was the co-president of the party’s youth wing in the state. She is only the second woman in the Punjab cabinet.
All of them took oath in Punjabi.
After AAP formed the government in March following its resounding victory in the assembly polls, 10 MLAs, including eight first-timers, were inducted as ministers. However in May, Health Minister Vijay Singla was sacked from the cabinet over graft charges, taking the strength of ministers to nine.
Talking to the reporters, Chief Minister Mann said, “Whatever expectations people have from us, we will live up to them.” The CM said all ministers will work honestly and in a transparent manner. I am proud of my cabinet. I expect that whatever responsibility is given to them, they will perform it”.
Mann said he has a lot of burden on him as he has too many portfolios with him. “We will allot good portfolios to them,” said Mann. On being asked when the portfolios will be allotted, the chief minister said, “These will be given by tomorrow or a day after tomorrow.”
Mann is likely to hold a meeting on portfolios Tuesday morning ahead of a Cabinet meeting. According to preliminary discussions within the party, Aman Arora is being considered for local bodies, while Nijjar could be given health and medical education. Both these departments are currently with the CM. Fauja Singh may get animal husbandry, the department currently with rural development and panchayats minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal. Anmol is being considered for sports and cultural affairs, the portfolio being handled by education minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer. Jouramajra is being considered for department of cooperatives, currently with finance minister Harpal Cheema.