In yet another snub to Navjot Singh Sidhu, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has not included him in any of eight dedicated consultative groups he formed Saturday to review and accelerate the implementation of his government’s flagship programmes. Fifteen of the 17 ministers in the Cabinet have found in one or more consultative groups.
Besides Sidhu, only Medical Education and Research Minister Om Prakash Soni is not made part of any of the groups. This is the second time when Soni too has been snubbed – first was when the CM withdrew his environment portfolio ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and second when he stripped him of the education portfolio in a rejig carried out Thursday.
Sidhu too was stripped of his local government, tourism and cultural affairs portfolios in the Cabinet reshuffle. He was given the Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources Department. Sidhu had earlier accused the CM of singling him out for non-performance. Sidhu has yet not taken the charge of his new assignment.
Saturday’s development is being seen as widening of the gulf between the two even though CM has included Sidhu’s aide and party MLA Pargat Singh in one of the groups. These consultative groups have been mandated to review the performance of the state government programmes and give recommendations to improve them. They will also recommend changes to improve the outreach of the programmes and the participation of citizens in them, according to an official statement.
The Congress government has initiated a number of pro-poor programmes in keeping with its commitment to the people of Punjab, the CM was quoted as saying in the statement.
“These programmes or schemes had shown substantial results, but during recent field tours, it was gathered that participation of elected representatives and communities in formulation and implementation of these programmes needed to be more impactful,” Amarinder said.
Amarinder would head the consultative group on Urban Renewal and Reforms – Smart Cities, AMRUT, UEIP, HUDCO as chairman, with Local Government Minister Brahm Mohindra, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Housing & Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Public Works Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Food & Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu besides MLAs Pargat Singh, Sushil Kumar Rinku, Sunil Dutti, Amit Vij, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Surinder Kumar Dawar and Dr. Harjot Kamal Singh as members.
He will also head the consultative group on Drugs – Comprehensive Action Plan against Drug Abuse as chairman, with Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, and Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla among the members, along with DGP Dinkar Gupta and ADGP/STF Gurpreet Kaur Deo.
‘Farmer and Farm Workers Debt Waiver’ consultative group includes Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as chairman with Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, and Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot as members. The Universal Health Insurance would have Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu as chairman and Social Security Minister Aruna Chaudhary as its member.
The Ghar Ghar Rozgar group has Employment Generation and Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as chairman, with Labour Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora as members.
The group on Food Security – Smart Ration Cards is headed by Food & Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, with Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Social Security Minister Aruna Chaudhary among the members.
Rural Development – MGSVY, SVC, MGNREGA, Rural Housing has Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa as chairman, with Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Razia Sultana among the members.
Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu heads the group on Mission Tandrust Punjab, with members including Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Water Resources Minister Smt. Razia Sultana and Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi.
All the groups have MLAs and senior government officers of various departments as members. The Urban Renewal & Reforms group also includes mayors of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala. The reports of the groups will be considered by the Council of Ministers in its meeting in July 2019. The Chief Secretary has been asked to issue the necessary orders.