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Manpreet Punjab FM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Capt Kanwaljit: Cooperation
Capt Kanwaljit: Cooperation

Chandigarh, March 7
Portfolios to Punjab ministers were finally allocated today with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal effecting a “generational shift” in the politics of the state.

Doon school product and four-time MLA Manpreet Singh Badal (43) was made Finance Minister, perhaps the youngest ever to get the finance portfolio in the state. He, along with a few others, who are all under 50 years of age, will lead critical departments of the government. Man who held the job of FM in the previous SAD-BJP regime Kanwaljit Singh has been given what is perceived as a significant portfolio: Cooperation.

Just as these changes were announced today, the dominant feeling was that justice had not been done in handing over agriculture department to Sucha Singh Langah. He is not seen as someone who fits the bill.

This morning Badal played an astute political game. In his under- stated style, he curbed the much-talked about power struggle within his own family by keeping the excise and taxation portfolio himself. He allocated some key departments to senior ministers to make it fair mix of the experienced and the new generation.

Badal keeps excise

As Adesh Partap Singh and Bikramjit Singh Majithia, both close relations of Badal, bickered, Badal had no choice but to keep the important excise and taxation department for himself

Raw deal for agriculture?

Just as changes were announced, the dominant feeling was that justice had not been done in handing over the agriculture department to Sucha Singh Langah. He is not seen as someone who fits the bill.

It is strongly believed that there was a tie between Adesh Partap Singh and Bikramjit Singh Majithia, both close relations of Badal, over securing the important excise and taxa tion department. Badal did not allot the portfolio to both aspirants and has kept it with himself. Last time, the department was with Adesh Partap Singh.

Actually, Badal devised a smart formula of not allotting a department to a minister who had held the same during the previous SAD-BJP regime. Not only to Adesh Partap, he applied the formula to others also. The finance department, which was earlier with Kanwaljit Singh, has gone to Manpreet Badal this time.

Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who held the cooperation department earlier, has been given rural development and panchayats. Among others, whose departments has been been changed from the last time include Sucha Singh Langah, Upinderjit Kaur, Tikshan Sud, Manoranjan Kalia, Master Mohan Lal, Ajit Singh Kohar, Swarna Ram. The only exception has been made in the case of Janmeja Singh Sekhon, who has retained irrigation department.

The crucial part is the “generational shift”. Manpreet Badal will have the task of leading the state’s economy that is in a transitional stage at the moment. It deserved a mind with fresh ideas to take Punjab ahead and to give a new direction to the economy.

Fortyeight-year-old Manoranjan Kalia, leader of the BJP legislative party and number two in the cabinet, will hold the significant portfolio of the local bodies, industry and commerce. His prowess will be tested in various urban renewal programmes, besides checking haphazard growth in the cities. Attracting industry back to the state is a major challenge before him.

Adesh Partap Singh, who is 47-year-old, has been allotted food, civil supplies and information technology. He will be responsible for implementing the cheap atta and dal promise made by Badal, besides ensuring the trouble-free procurement of foodgrains that was an appreciable achievement of the Amarinder government.

Also, he will have to walk the proverbial “extra mile” to bring Punjab on the mainstream IT map with states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and even neighbouring Haryana. At 33 years of age, Parminder Singh Dhindsa will head the PWD (B and R) department, while 31-year-old Bikramjit Singh Majithia has been entrusted with the responsibility of public relations and water supply and sanitation, besides science technology and environment.

As a PWD minister, Dhindsa will have to ensure that the process of creating world-class infrastructure initiated by the previous Congress government carries on. Without infrastructure, no state can think to move ahead. Bikramjit has the important task of providing potable water to a vast area of the state. In Malwa belt, people have been suffering from various ailments because of lack of quality drinking water. The World Bank has already approved a drinking water project for the state.

Another youngster, if one may call him so, is Tikshan Sud, 52. He will be the minister for parliamentary affairs. For Sud, the most challenging job will be to set the things right on medical education, which is facing a serious crisis because of fall in its standards and lack of teaching staff in medical colleges. The welfare of labour, for which working days have shrunk, will be another challenge before him.

The only sore point is agriculture that should have been given to a minister having a deep knowledge about the happenings on agriculture front at the international level.

Agriculture is a most discussed sector at the international level at the moment. It will be hard task for Sucha Singh Langah, who has been given the agriculture department, to understand and deal with the issues such as the introduction of genetically modified crops, growing consumption of organic foods, use of modern technology, diversification and new trends in agriculture sector at various levels.

Langah should have been given some other portfolio that does have national and international dimensions.


Portfolios of Punjab ministers

Parkash Singh Badal
Chief Minister
Personnel, general administration, home affairs and justice, housing and urban development, vigilance, excise and taxation, power, employment, legal and legislative affairs and NRI affairs.
Manoranjan Kalia Local government, industries and commerce
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura Rural development and panchayats, elections
Capt Kanwaljit Singh Cooperation, defence service welfare, removal of grievances, pensions and welfare of pensioners wing of the finance department
Manpreet Singh Badal Finance and planning, programme implementation
Tikshan Sud Parliamentary affairs, medical education and research, forests and wildlife preservation wing of the agriculture department and labour
Upinderjit Kaur Education and civil aviation
Adesh Partap Singh Food civil supplies, consumer affairs and information technology
Luxmi Kanta Chawla Health and family welfare
Ajit Singh Kohar Revenue, rehabilitation and disaster management
Master Mohan Lal Transport
Gulzar Singh Ranike Animal husbandry and fisheries, dairy development and welfare of SCs and BCs and sports and youth services
Parminder Singh Dhindsa PWD B and R
Swarna Ram Technical education and industrial training and social security and development of women and children
Sucha Singh Langah Agriculture
Janmeja Singh Sekhon Irrigation
Hira Singh Gabria Jails wing of home department, tourism and cultural affairs and printing and stationery
Bikramjit Singh Majithia Water supply and sanitation, information & public relations and science technology, environment and non-conventional energy



Change in seniority of ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The allocation of portfolios has resulted in a change in the seniority of ministers. The new protocol list will be over and above the seniority allocated at the time of oath taking.

According to today’s list, fourth-time MLA Manpreet Singh Badal jumps to the fifth spot behind Kanwaljit Singh. Earlier, at the oath taking, he was at the 12th spot. Swarna Ram drops from the 8th spot to the 14th while Sucha Singh Langah drops from the 9th spot to the 15th.

Hira Singh Gabria and Bikramjit Singh Majitha have been swapped for the 17th and 18th spots. Majitha becomes the last at the 18th. Parminder Dhindsa jumps from the 16th to the 13th spot. Mohan Lal goes up two places from his earlier 13th spot that was allocated to him during the oath-taking ceremony. Gulzar Singh Ranike also jumps three places from his earlier 15th position.

Tikshan Sud, Upinderjit Kaur, Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, Luxmi Kanta Chawla and Ajit Singh Kohar will now be at 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th spots, respectively.

Contrary to perception in some quarters, Kanwaljit Singh has not been given an inconsequential department. He will be controlling some of the biggest cooperative bodies like Markfed and Milkfed that are profit-making bodies.

Besides, he will be controlling cooperative banks that lend money to farmers and also those societies that are responsible for the distribution of fertilisers and seeds. He will be connected direct to the rural vote bank of the Akalis. As many as 10 IAS officers heading various departments will be reporting to him.



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