Punjab: After Cabinet expansion, Cong moves to placate miffed MLAs

On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had stated that Dalits were not ignored as three Dalits were already in the Cabinet and the fourth one was a Deputy Speaker.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Published: April 23, 2018 6:18:04 am
punjab cabinet expansion, congress, cong mlas, sunil jakhar, indian express Sunil Jakhar

With over 20 MLAs miffed after the Cabinet expansion in Punjab, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar on Sunday had an over five-hour long meeting with general secretary incharge Asha Kumari and AICC secretary Harish Choudhary to devise a strategy to placate the MLAs.

Also, MLAs from Valmiki community met the leaders at at Punjab Bhawan. These included Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Kuldeep Singh Vaid and Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti. Later, several ministers including Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria too met the leaders. It was not clear whether the MLAs were called or they came on their own. A senior leader, however, said they came on their own.

Valmiki MLAs have a grouse that none of the three Dalit Cabinet ministers are not from their community. Aruna Chaudhary and Charanjit Singh Channi are Ravidaasias and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot belongs to Baazigar community. The Valmikis are inisisting on their representation too.

On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had stated that Dalits were not ignored as three Dalits were already in the Cabinet and the fourth one was a Deputy Speaker.

Dr Verka, after the meeting, told the media that party seniors have promised to sort out the issue.

Bhatti refused to say anything but sources close to him said he was going to Delhi to give a representation to party high command as it was injustice to their community.

Jakhar refused to divulge the details and said they were in the process of placating upset MLAs. He denied there was any polarisation campaign against Amarinder Singh. He said the MLAs were upset because of expansion. They will be looked after by the party, he said.

Sources said the MLAs were being offered various other posts in the government.

It is learnt some ministers are unhappy with their portfolios including OP Soni, who has been given Education and Freedom Fighters department. O P Soni too met senior party leaders on Sunday.

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