With Congress president Rahul Gandhi making it clear that workers need to be rewarded, the process of appointment of party MLAs as chairpersons of boards and corporations in Punjab just turned longer. The state Congress unit Tuesday sent the first list of names, finalised at Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Delhi residence, to Gandhi’s office for approval. The list doesn’t have any MLA’s name, party leaders who know about the development, said.
Apart from CM, state party chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar, AICC general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari and secretary in-charge Harish Choudhary were present at the Delhi meeting. The call to ‘adjust’ MLAs in corporations and boards may be taken at a later stage.
“Rahul Gandhi has got feedback that party workers are disillusioned in Punjab. He (Gandhi) has made sure that they get compensated for their loyalty to the party. Hence, we would see workers getting the government posts now,” said a party leader.
With the wait getting longer, the resentment among MLAs is bound to increase ahead of Lok Sabha elections due this year. The MLAs, several of them Cabinet berth aspirants, were expecting that the government would “adjust” them in boards and corporations.
The government had even brought in Office of Profit Bill, allowing the MLAs to hold such posts. The Bill, passed by the state Assembly, was sent to the Governor, who sat on it for a long time. The CM had met the Governor requesting him to clear the Bill. It was finally cleared and notified as an Act. Amarinder had also sought Gandhi’s permission on November 15 to name the chairpersons but was told to put it on hold till the Assembly elections were over in five states. The MLAs have been waiting for these posts since April last year when Amarinder expanded his Cabinet.
Before bringing in the Bill, government had brought in an ordinance but the Governor had returned it asking the government to introduce a legislation in the Vidhan Sabha.
Reckoning that leaving the MLAs out would mean trouble for the government, the party has decided to keep the posts of prominent boards and corporations vacant for now. Last time several MLAs, including Nathu Ram and Surjit Singh Dhiman, had raised a banner of revolt against the government. Amloh MLA Randeep Singh Nabha and others including Rakesh Pandey, and Amrik Singh Dhillon had resigned from the Vidhan Sabha committees after being ignored in Cabinet expansion.
There are about 140 posts of chairpersons of boards and corporations. The list of chairpersons of Improvements Trusts is also expected within this week.