M A I N   N E W S

Capt drops 10 ministers
Singla new Cabinet minister; 2 get Cabinet rank
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
In the process of down-sizing the Punjab Council of Ministers, five senior Cabinet-rank ministers and an equal number of ministers of state have been axed. Besides the Chief Minister, the "new-look" ministry will now have 14 Cabinet-rank and three ministers of state, against 16 Cabinet and eight ministers of state earlier.

The new ministry will have three new Cabinet ministers and two new ministers of state. Out of the three Cabinet ministers, one is a new face and two, who were earlier ministers of state, have been promoted.

Against the existing five parliamentary secretaries, there would now be one chief parliamentary secretary and nine parliamentary secretaries. Except one parliamentary secretary, who has been promoted as minister of state, the remaining four have been dropped.

Thus, besides the Chief Minister, the new Council of Ministers will have a total strength of 17 against 24 earlier, while the number of parliamentary secretaries has been increased to nine from five and in addition a chief parliamentary secretary has been added.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has forwarded the resignations of 12 ministers to the Governor and also the list of who all are to be sworn-in. The swearing-in ceremony is likely to be on July 7. The Chief Minister would administer the oath of office and secrecy to the chief parliamentary secretary and parliamentary secretaries.

From the composition of the reconstituted ministry, it is apparent that Capt Amarinder Singh has had his way. While group that included the likes of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa has gained, the group led by Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar has received a setback. The Chief Minister has taken good care of women MLAs. At least two of them are parliamentary secretaries, one is minister of state and one Cabinet-rank minister.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal retains her berth. Whether she will continue to be Deputy Chief Minister or not is not known but it appears that the Chief Minister has by and large been successful in breaking groups within the party.

In fact, there have also been exceptions to the formula put forward by the Chief Minister of making "performance" of ministers and MLAs in the Lok Sabha elections, as the main criterion for dropping, retaining and promoting, while reconstituting the ministry. This is evident from the presence of several ministers in the new set-up. One only hopes that the ministry will be more cohesive in its functioning and take such decisions that are in the financial and economic interest of the state and not the ones that interest political populism.

Does it tantamount to down-sizing of the council of ministers? Yes. But the total number is down by just two from 30 to 28, which includes parliamentary secretaries, who are though not considered part of the council of ministers but get equal perks and facilities. Does this lead to any economy in expenditure? No. The 12 ministers, whose resignations have been forwarded to the Governor are Mr Khushal Behl, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Mr Joginder Singh Mann (all Cabinet ministers).

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Prof Darbari Lal, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi (all ministers of state).

The resignations of Mr Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, both ministers of state, have also been forwarded to the Governor because following their elevation as Cabinet-rank ministers they would be required to again take the oath. Besides these two, Mr Surinder Singla is a new face to have been inducted as a Cabinet-rank minister.

While Mr Rakesh Pande has been retained as minister of state, the two new faces in this rank will be of Mr Hans Raj Josan and Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, daughter of the late Beant Singh, whose son, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, cabinet minister, has been dropped.

Of the five parliamentary secretaries, while Mr Josan has been promoted as minister of state, all others have been dropped — Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal, Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lally and Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu.

The new Chief Parliamentary Secretary will be Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi. The nine new parliamentary secretaries are Mr Sunil Jakhar, Rana K P Singh, Mr Surinder Kumar Dawar, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mr Arvind Khanna, Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, Mr Raj Kumar, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot and Ms Razia Sultana.


3 Cong MLAs threaten to quit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
Three members of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party (CLP), including two dropped ministers of states, have threatened to quit their Vidhan Sabha seats in protest against their "victimisation" in the name of downsizing of the ministry.

Besides, the family of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh has also reportedly taken strong exception to dropping of Mr Tej Parkash Singh and replacing him with his sister, Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, with a lower berth of the Minister of State.

The sources reveal that a spate of dramatic events took place both in Chandigarh and New Delhi after the Public Relations Department of the Punjab Government released a press note about the dropping of 10 members from the Council of Ministers and induction of two new faces, both first timers, in the reconstituted council which will take oath on Wednesday at 11 am.

Those who have lodged protest with the party high command include one member of CLP each from Majha, Doaba and Malwa region. These legislators said no policy had been followed and rather a "pick and choose" formula was adopted to sack some and replace them with favourites, including first timers.

One of the dropped ministers of state said he had been picked up because he had sided with the dissidents in December last year. "If the performance in the last Lok Sabha elections was the criteria then how come people who lost in their assembly segments have been rewarded with Cabinet berths while we have been sidelined."

Sources reveal that one of the ministers of state, who has threatened to quit his Assembly seat, had crossed over from dissident’s camp to the Chief Ministers' camp at the last moment.

Attempts to get in touch with any of these three legislators were in vain as they had switched off their mobile phones. Sources, however, maintained that they have conveyed their resentment over the reconstitution of the new Council of Ministers.

One of the agitated MLA was a Parliamentary Secretary until now.

Interestingly, this development has precipitated the crisis facing the Punjab Congress Legislature Party which has been simmering since the dissidence came out in open in December last year.Back

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