Resentment prevailed in the Punjab Cabinet, a day after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh carried out a major rejig in his Council of Ministers. The fact that CM reshuffled the portfolios of 13 ministers, and spared only four of them, there were murmurs of discontent.
A major grouse of a few ministers, who lost their important portfolios, was that their departments were taken away even when they had performed well in the Lok Sabha election while on the other hand those who could not ensure the victory of party candidate from their respective Assembly segments were rewarded.
At least three ministers lost the portfolios because they did not have a good working equation with their departmental secretaries. They included Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who lost Urban Development department, OP Soni who lost School Education portfolio; and Gurpreet Singh Kangar who lost Power department.
“It is the CM who decides. I have no qualms. But why have those who performed in Lok Sabha election suffered while others who could not perform were rewarded with important departments,” asked a minister requesting anonymity.
The ministers who did not perform in Lok Sabha election, including Vijay Inder Singla, who was also given School Education department and retained the PWD, and Rana Gurmit Sodhi, who was given NRI Affairs besides his sports department, although party candidate lost from their assembly constituency. Portfolios of Manpreet Badal and Sham Sunder Arora were also not changed. They continue with Finance and Industries, respectively, though the party candidates lost from their constituencies.
“We want to know the criterion. If the CM had said that he would drop non performers from the Cabinet, he should have stuck to that. The action is not justified. A few of us have spoken to our party in-charge about it,” said another minister.
The rejig has also dashed hopes of a few aspirants who were hoping that Amarinder would induct new faces by dropping the incumbents. Vidhan Sabha Speaker Raja Kanwarpal Singh and former Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh were among two Cabinet berth aspirants.
The absence of party high command’s stamp on the rejig is also an issue with a few ministers who are looking towards the top leadership to intervene. But on the issue AICC general secretary and Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari said that change in portfolios was a prerogative of the CM and he was well within his rights to bring about a change in his team.