Punjab Cabinet expansion: 15 ministers sworn in, Captain Amarinder skips event

Randeep Singh Nabha surprise entrant | Brahm Mohindra first to take oath

Punjab Cabinet expansion: 15 ministers sworn in, Captain Amarinder skips event

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi with his Cabinet colleagues after the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on Sunday. Also in the picture are Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26

Fifteen ministers joined the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Cabinet on Sunday, seven of them new faces. They were administered oath by Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhavan here. In a last-minute change, four-time MLA from Nabha Randeep Singh Nabha was inducted in place of PCC working president and Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra after Rahul Gandhi spoke with the CM late last night.

Opinions page: Chance for Congress to play reformer’s role

Unruffled, Nagra sought to clarify that he was never in the race, having resigned as MLA last year to mark his protest against the contentious farm laws.The Speaker has yet to accept his resignation.

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Rahul’s footprint evident

  • A blend of fresh blood and experience, the Cabinet expansion is being seen as an attempt by Rahul Gandhi to carry Capt Amarinder Singh’s loyalists along in the poll-bound state. Only one Sidhu loyalist, Pargat Singh, could make it
  • Caste Matrix: In the Cabinet are 9 Jats, 4 Hindus, an OBC, a Muslim & three SCs, including 2 women
  • Region-wise: Nine ministers from the Malwa belt, six from Majha and three from Doaba region

Eleven former ministers in Capt Amarinder Singh government were re-inducted. Pradesh Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu was seen on the stage along with the new ministers. Capt Amarinder and former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar did not show up at the ceremony. Election on mind, CM Channi said decision-making would now be expedited. “I am working 24x7. I will fulfil all promises,” he added.

New faces: Raja Warring (Gidderbaha), Raj Kumar Verka (Amritsar -West), Sangat Singh Gilzian (Urmar), Pargat Singh (Jalandhar Cantt), Randeep Singh (Nabha), Gurkirat Kotli (Khanna)

Re-inducted: Rana Gurjeet Singh (Kapurthala)

Old faces: Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Badal, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Vijay Inder Singla, Aruna Chaudhary, Razia Sultana, Bharat Bhushan Ashu

The ‘dropped’

Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Sunder Sham Arora, Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Gurpreet Kangar

Brahm Mohindra, being the seniormost MLA, was administered the oath first. Next was Manpreet Badal. All re-inducted ministers were sworn in before the newcomers, with the exception of Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh. A former Irrigation Minister, he had to resign in 2018 after his name figured in a sand mining scam. Earlier in the day, MLAs from Doaba met Sidhu, demanding that Rana Gurjeet Singh’s name be dropped from the list. Despite that, the latter was taken in the Cabinet. So was Gurkirat Kotli. The Khanna MLA had faced trial for the abduction and molestation of French tourist Katia. He was acquitted in 1999 after the victim failed to testify against him and the other accused.

Punjab affairs in-charge and AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said, “No charges were proved against them.”

Hours before the swearing-in, ex-ministers Balbir Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet Singh Kangar told the media they were unhappy at being ‘dropped’ but would abide by the party decision.

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