A day after it swept Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party initiated the process of government formation with Chief Minister-designate Bhagwant Mann telling legislators Friday that since there are limited number of Cabinet berths, those who are left out “should not feel bad”. In the House of 117 members, 92 now belong to AAP. “We can make 17 CMs (ministers) but the remaining 75 MLAs should not feel bad. The expectations of people are very high. Sachin Tendulkar is expected to hit a century in every match, people have similar expectations from the AAP government. We will have to work day-wise not month or year-wise. We have to work on priority,” Mann told legislators.
Mann will be sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Punjab on March 16 at a ceremony in Nawanshahr district’s Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh — the symbolism of Bhagat Singh is an important element of AAP’s ideology.
On Friday, Mann met Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal at his official residence in New Delhi. Soon after the meeting, the AAP announced that Kejriwal and Mann will lead a road show in Amritsar on March 13 to mark the victory in Punjab.
“My younger brother Bhagwant Mann will take oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab. He visited my house to invite me to the swearing-in. I have full faith that Bhagwant will fulfil the hopes of the people of Punjab as their Chief Minister,” Kejriwal said in a Twitter post.
The AAP released visuals showing Mann seeking Kejriwal’s blessings by touching his feet before embracing him and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Later, Mann and AAP Punjab in-charge Raghav Chadha, who along with Sisodia also attended the meeting that lasted over an hour, left for Punjab where the newly-elected lawmakers had gathered at a hotel in Mohali.
In his address, Mann urged them to work hard to fulfil the expectations people have from the AAP government. “Remain humble in victory, and don’t get into FIR culture with opponents,” he said.
He told them that Kejriwal’s message is that everyone has to work towards improving schools, colleges, industry and hospitals, and everyone will be given responsibility.
The present Vidhan Sabha will be dissolved by the Governor since he has received a recommendation to that effect from the Cabinet. He will also issue directions for the constitution of the new Vidhan Sabha. Mann and Chadha are also expected to meet the Governor Saturday morning to stake claim to form the government.
While there was no official word on what transpired at Mann’s meeting with Kejriwal, it is learnt that the leaders discussed the probable names of MLAs who will be made ministers as well as IAS and IPS officers for top posts in the state administration.
The party is considering Dirba MLA Harpal Singh Cheema, Sunam MLA Aman Arora, Jagraon MLA Sarabjeet Kaur Manuke, Anandpur Sahib MLA Harjot Bains, Rajpura MLA Neena Mittal, Kotkapura MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur for the swearing-in on March 16. Except Neena Mittal, all others were elected in 2017 for the first time. Ten sitting MLAs of the party had been given tickets for the 2022 polls and all won.
In a future expansion of the Cabinet, Amritsar East MLA Jeevan Jyot Kaur, Bhadaur MLA Labh Singh Ugoke, Chamkaur Sahib MLA Dr Charanjit Singh, Sangrur MLA Narinder Kaur Bharaj and Kharar MLA Gagandeep Kaur Mann are said to be in reckoning.
Talking about Jeevan Jyot Kaur, who defeated PPCC chief Navjot Sidhu and SAD leader Bikram Majithia, a party leader said: “Many people may not realise this, but Jeevan Jyot Kaur has earned her victory. She is working for women and marginalised sections since 1997 and she also worked for party for eight years before getting the ticket. She deserves a Cabinet berth.”
Besides her, a 34-year-old farmer by profession, Sukhveer Maiserkhana, is in the reckoning. He has studied till Class 12, and has trounced senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Jagmeet Brar and former gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana with a huge lead.
Sukhveer secured 63,099 votes (46.37% ) against 28,091 votes to polled by Sidhana in Maur.
Jagdev Singh had won the seat for AAP in 2017, however, he had quit the party later.