Months ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections, the SAD-BJP government has appointed seven more chief parliamentary secretaries, taking the total number of CPSs to an all-time high of 25.
The move is likely to strain the already overburdened state exchequer given that the new appointees will be entitled to an array of perks and privileges, besides a salary.
On the recommendations of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki Tuesday gave his approval for the induction of five Akali MLAs and two BJP MLAs as CPSs.
The Akali MLAs are hockey player-turned-politician Pargat Singh (representing Jalandhar Cantonment constituency), Gurtej Singh Ghuriana (Balluana), Manjit Singh Mianwind (Baba Bakala), Darshan Singh Shivalik (Gill, SC constituency in Ludhiana) and Gurparatap Singh Wadala (Nakodar). The two BJP MLAs are Seema Kumari (Bhoa, SC reserved constituency in Pathankot) and Sukhjeet Kaur Sahi (Dasuya).
All seven CPSs will be administered oath Thursday.
Meanwhile, SAD MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria, representing Amritsar South, has been dropped as CPS. A one-time blue eyed boy of Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Bolaria had been in confrontation with the Akali leadership on the issue of a garbage dump in his constituency.
Bolaria said he would react to the development in a press conference on Thursday.
The induction of two BJP MLAs Seema Kumar and Sukhjeet Kaur Sahi takes the party’s tally to five CPSs.
There are 60 Akali legislators and 12 BJP legislators in the 117-member Punjab assembly.
While rules stipulate that the number of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total strength of Vidhan Sabha, there is no such bar on the number of CPSs.
Punjab has currently 18 ministers (among them four BJP ministers), including Chief Minister and deputy chief minister and many ministers and many ministers have multiple portfolios.
With the current tally of 25 CPSs, plus the speaker and deputy speaker, the coalition government has rewarded 45 of its legislators out of its combined strength of 72 legislators.
Last year, the salary of CPSs was increased along with those of Chief Minister, deputy chief minister, cabinet ministers, MLAs, speaker and deputy speaker of Vidhan Sabha.
The salary of CPS was doubled from Rs 20,000 per month to Rs 40,000 per month. In addition to that, each CPS gets an official car and a gypsy, an official residence with entitlement to have a cook there, an office in Civil secretariat with a private secretary, personal assistant, steno, clerk and a peon.
As MLAs, they would continue to get other perks which include Constituency Allowance (Rs 25,000), Office Allowance (Rs 10000), Telephone Allowance (Rs 15,000), Secretarial Allowance (Rs 10,000) and annual free travel facility worth up to Rs 3 lakh.