September 27, 2021 4:01:43 am
A week after Capt Amarinder Singh stepped down as chief minister of Punjab, and following an eleventh-hour change in the list of members of the new ministry, 15 MLAs were inducted into the Charanjit Singh Channi cabinet on Sunday.
There are seven new faces in the ministry, while eight former ministers have been retained. Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers at Raj Bhawan.
Chief Minister Channi and his two deputies, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni, had taken oath on September 20.
Those who took oath on Monday included Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Badal, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhary, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Rana Gurjit Singh, Razia Sultana, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Randeep Singh Nabha, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Pargat singh, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, and Gurkirat Kotli.
Gidderbaha MLA Warring; three-time Amritsar legislator Verka; three-time MLA Gilzian; Jalandhar Cantt MLA Pargat; four-time MLA Nabha; grandson of former chief minister Beant Singh, Kotli; and Rana Gurjit, who had resigned from the Amarinder Singh ministry in 2018 amidst allegations of corruption, were the new faces.
The Doaba region, which had only one representative in the Amarinder cabinet, has got three ministers now. The most populous Malwa region has nine ministers, and Majha seven. The Amarinder cabinet had 11 ministers from Malwa, including the chief minister himself. Amarinder’s cabinet had a vacancy for two years after Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned.
Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Sunder Shyam Arora, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Balbir Singh Sidhu, and Gurpreet Kangar, who were part of the previous ministry, have been dropped.
The Channi ministry has Rahul Gandhi’s stamp on it. He was closely involved in the selection of ministers, and remained in touch with the chief minister until the last minute, when Kuljit Nagra was dropped from the list.
The ministry has nine Jat Sikhs, four Hindus, three SCs, and one OBC. Two of the Congress’s three women MLAs are in the cabinet. The party has tried to strike a balance among regions, castes and communities.
There is no Mazhbi Sikh in the cabinet, even though Sidhu had pushed for Sukhwinder Singh Danny in place of Aruna Chaudhary.
While the party has conveyed a strong message by dropping the closest aide of Amarinder, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, it has accommodated eight ministers from his cabinet. The attempt is to not allow a larger number of leaders to join the former CM’s camp, and become a threat for the party. The induction of a leader with a clean image like Pargat Singh is also intended to send a signal.
The induction of Rana Gurjit, which has triggered protests within the party, is intended to counter the SAD-BSP in Doaba, sources said. He is considered a strong leader in the region, and had been warming up to the SAD.
Nabha, 54, was included in the list of ministers at the eleventh hour. He had protested after the list was finalised, and had threatened to chalk out his future course of action himself. The Congress high command gave in to pressure and replaced PCC working president Kuljit Singh Nagra with Nabha.
Dr Verka, 58, the Valmiki face of the party, had been in the running for a ministerial berth ever since the Amarinder government came to power.
Gilzian, 67, who is also working president of the PPCC, had resigned from all posts after he was denied a berth by Amarinder. He had subsequently supported Navjot Singh Sidhu in his revolt against the former CM.
Hockey Olympian Pargat is a close aide of Sidhu’s, and had joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Assembly election. He is also the PPCC general secretary, and has been vociferous in raising issues against Captain. He was ignored by Amarinder and not inducted in his cabinet.
Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, 43, is the youngest minister in the cabinet, who has beaten back strong protests against his induction by Manpreet Badal. A well known baiter of Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat, who defeated him from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat in 2017, Warring was an IYC chief from 2015 to 2018, and is considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
Mohindra is the one of the seniormost Congressman in the state. He was local bodies minister in Amarinder’s cabinet.
Former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal is the nephew of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and had been with SAD earlier. Manpreet had put in a word for Channi to AICC leader Priyanka Gandhi before he was named the CM of the state.
Tript Bajwa, former rural development and panchayats minister, was the driver of the revolt against Amarinder. It was felt that he should be rewarded.
Razia Sultana is the only Muslim face in the cabinet. Vijay Inder Singla and Bharat Bhushan Ashu are the Hindu faces.
Beant Singh’s grandson Gurkirat Singh Kotli had faced trial in the infamous Katia molestation case.
The swearing-in was attended by Harish Rawat, Harish Chaudhary, and PCC chief Navjot Sidhu. Amarinder Singh stayed away; former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar also skipped the ceremony.
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