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M A I N   N E W S

Amarinder & Co stay away
Team Badal sworn in
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

12 PLUS 5

Shiromani Akali Dal: 12

Ranjit Singh Brahampura
Capt Kanwaljit Singh
Upindejit Kaur
Adesh Partap Singh Kairon
Sucha Singh Langah
Ajit Singh Kohar
Manpreet Singh Badal
Janmeja Singh Sekhon
Gulzar Singh Ranike
Parminder Singh Dhindsa
Bikram Singh Majitha
Hira Singh Gabria

Bharatiya Janata Party: 5

Manorajan Kalia
Tikshan Sud
Swarna Ram
Luxmi Kanta Chawla
Master Mohan Lal

Mohali, March 2
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal was sworn in as Chief Minister for the fourth time amid chants of “Bole so nihal” and bursting of crackers at a well-attended but disorganised ceremony at PCA Stadium here today.

The Badal-led SAD-BJP combine set a record of sorts with all 17 ministers — 12 from SAD and five from the BJP — in the Cabinet rank. There is no minister of state.

The swearing-in ceremony was boycotted by Congress MLAs. None of the 44 MLAs turned up. Nor did former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Badal, the 17th Chief Minister of the state, was administered the oath of secrecy and office by Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) at 1.35 pm, but before that he had to ask the youth to maintain silence to allow the proceedings to go on.

Before the ceremony started, Badal’s grandchildren touched his feet and stayed around him. The Chief Minister posed for a photograph with the kids as also children of his nephew Manpreet Singh Badal.

The ministers sworn in were

The crush at the gates.
The crush at the gates.
Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Upindejit Kaur, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Sucha Singh Langah, Ajit Singh Kohar, Manpreet Singh Badal, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Bikram Singh Majitha and Hira Singh Gabria (All Akalis). Manorajan Kalia, Tikshan Sud, Swarna Ram, Luxmi Kanta Chawla and Master Mohan Lal were from the BJP.

All ministers, except Luxmi Kanta Chawla, took the oath in Punjabi. Manoranjan Kalia was the first to be administered the oath, followed by Brahampura and Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The cabinet will include woman representatives Upinderjit Kaur and Chawla.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani hugs Parkash Singh Badal after the swearing-in.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani hugs Parkash Singh Badal after the swearing-in. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

It has a mix of old and new faces. The only surprise is Bikram Singh Majitha, brother-in-law of Sukhbir Badal, a first-time MLA. The other new ministers are: Luxmi Kanta Chawla is a two-time MLA; Manpreet Singh Badal a four-time MLA; and Parminder Singh Dhindsa and Hira Singh Gabria three-time MLAs.

For Tikshan Sud, Swarna Ram and Gulzar Singh Ranike, it is an elevation. They were ministers for state in the previous SAD-BJP government.

The Majha is represented in the cabinet with seven ministers and there are five each from the Malwa and Doaba regions. There are five Hindus and 12 Sikhs. Two are Dalits. Eight of the ministers are above 60 years of age while three are above 50. The remaining six are below 50. Majitha is the youngest at 31 and Upinderjit Kaur the oldest at 67.

The crowd at the venue was a mix of urban and rural populace. It had reached at least three hours before the ceremony was to start. There were wives, daughters and relatives of the elected representatives, who had turned up in finery.

Such was the enthusiasm that each time Chief Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal announced a name, supporters of that minister raised slogans in his praise. When Manpreet Singh Badal was invited to take oath, the crowd broke into a deafening applause, while youths raised slogans. Incidentally, he started reading out the oath even before the Governor could prompt him.

Among those who attended the ceremony were L.K. Advani, Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar, Rajnath Singh, O.P. Chautala, Vasundra Raje Scindia, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Sahib Singh Verma, George Fernandes, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sukhbir Singh Badal. In charge of BJP’s Punjab affairs Arun Jaitely was conspicuous by his absence.

Once the ceremony was over, the ministers were allotted Toyota Camry cars and they drove in style with escort gypsies accompanying them.

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2 new ministeries
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Unfolding his government’s immediate agenda after occupying the chair of Chief Minister this afternoon, Parkash Singh Badal said the two new ministries — one for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and the other for employment generation — and three boards for promotion of trade and industry would be set up. Alleviation of poverty would be top on the agenda.

As a lot of problems were faced by NRIs, liaison offices would be opened in America, Canada, England and Australia for communication with NRIs. The proposed employment generation ministry would work as a guidance bureau for the unemployed.

On setting up boards, he said one would be for medium and small- scale industry, another for large-scale industry and the third for trade.

Eminent traders and industrialists would be nominated on these boards and the chairpersons would enjoy the rank of minister.

Making it clear that he had nothing against any officer and would not resort to any witch-hunt, Badal said, “ I will hold heads of departments responsible in case I get a report of corruption from any office.”

He said there was nothing right in the state. The education system was a mess, health services were in a poor shape, the industry was shaky and the agricultural sector on a decline. The main focus would be on power generation.

“We welcome investors to promote industry and would like concessions to this sector on the pattern of hill states.” On mega projects targeted by his party before coming to power, he said only those projects which served the interests of the state would be allowed.

“All promises, including atta-dal on susbsidised rates to poor sections, will be met. I will call on the Prime Minister and other ministers to urge them to link the minimum support price ( MSP) of wheat with the price index,” he said.

About the rising prices, he said the main responsibility to curb inflation rested with the Union Government. “We will take steps which are in our purview.”

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