The first expansion of Punjab Cabinet is likely before the state’s budget session slated for June, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh indicated on Wednesday. Amarinder had taken oath as chief minister on March 16 alongwith nine ministers. The chief minister said Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had given him full freedom in choosing the council of ministers, and he had identified seniority, experience and regional parity as the main criteria in the selection process, according to an official release.
Amarinder said he would ensure that all regions are given due representation in the Cabinet to enable the holistic progress of the state, with no region left out from the development process. The Cabinet expansion will be undertaken before the presentation of the budget for fiscal 2017-18, said Amarinder, pointing out that the government would only be going in for vote-on-account next week.
The maiden session of the newly-constituted state Assembly is scheduled to commence on Friday. The Chief Minister said experience and professionalism would be given due importance in all government appointments, including that of bureaucrats and other officials. He said his government had decided to continue with DGP Suresh Arora as he was a professional man, and the Chief Secretary was changed because of his “close proximity” to the previous regime.
The Punjab government will soon bring in a legislation for the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries, who would be attached to the various ministers, he said. Reiterating that the recent assembly election was his last, the Chief Minister said his government would introduce a Bill to appoint Parliamentary Secretaries who could be groomed by the ministers for the future.
India is a young country and such a move would help youngsters learn the ropes so that they can take over the reins of governance in the next few years, Amarinder said. The Chief Minister said he would be happy if the party appoints his successor to look after Congress’ political affairs in the state in the last year of his tenure to take over from him when he hangs up his boots.