Tribune News Service
Amritsar, September 26
Celebrations broke out at Amritsar West MLA Raj Kumar Verka’s residence after the announcement of his induction into the Cabinet. His supporters kept visiting his residence situated in posh Kennedy Avenue to greet his family members. Sweets were distributed among people as soon as he was sworn in as the Cabinet minister.
His induction into the Cabinet is being seen as another deft move to draw Dalit voters from the Majha region to the party in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
The three-time MLA has been projecting himself as the face of the Valmiki/Majhabi community in the Majha region. Other community leaders from the Congress — Attari MLA Tarsem Singh DC, Baba Bakala MLA Santokh Singh Bhalaipur and Jandiala MLA Sukhwinder Singh Danny Bandala, popularly known as Danny Bandala, too, are vying to project themselves as the community leaders. In July, Danny Bandala, 43, was appointed as the PPCC working president, overlooking three senior community leaders.
Verka has been inducted in the Cabinet in the government heading to the last quarter of its tenure, but such rumours were doing the rounds for the past many years as well. His brother Pawan Kumar aired his discontent over the matter and told the media that clear indications had been coming from the Congress high command to appoint Verka in the Cabinet, but former CM Capt Amarinder Singh thwarted this for inexplicable reasons.
During his entire political career, he contested the Assembly elections four times. Of these, he won thrice and lost once. He was mentored by late Congress stalwart RL Bhatia. He had remained successful in his maiden Assembly election contested from the Verka constituency in 2002. For the next Assembly election, his party shifted him to the Amritsar West Assembly segment after it was reserved. He lost the 2007 Assembly election and won during the 2007 and 2012 legislative elections. He was the longest serving vice-chairman in the National Commission for Scheduled Castes from 2010 to 2016. He was also appointed as the chairman of Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) during the erstwhile Capt Amarinder Singh government.
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