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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

All 4 BJP ministers resign, reshuffle on cards, new faces to be inducted

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 24, 2014
First Published: 18:21 IST(24/6/2014) | Last Updated: 23:07 IST(24/6/2014)

All four BJP ministers in Punjab resigned on Tuesday amid speculation that there will be a reshuffle and new faces will be inducted into the cabinet.

Also, the party’s top leadership has said that it was “collective responsibility” of the coalition partners for the poor performance in the parliamentary polls.

The ministers who resigned are local bodies and medical education and research minister Anil Joshi, forests and wildlife and labour minister Chunni Lal Bhagat, industries and commerce, technical education and industrial training, and parliamentary affairs minister Madan Mohan Mittal and health and family welfare, social security and development of women and children minister Surjit Kumar Jyani.

Of the 18 ministers in the state cabinet, four are from the BJP. Recently, the SAD had reshuffled the portfolios of its ministers bringing in two new faces into the cabinet.

Meanwhile, the fate of chief parliamentary secretaries Navjot Kaur Sidhu, KD Bhandari and Som Parkash is still not known as they have not resigned.

Senior BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon, who is heading a committee to know the reasons for the party’s debacle, would submit the report to Punjab affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar, party general secretary JP Nadda and senior leader Shyam Jajju on Wednesday. Earlier, the report was to be submitted on Tuesday.

Talking to HT on phone, Shanta said the coalition partners shared the collective responsibility and a process of course correction had started, indicating a reshuffle of cabinet portfolios and also introducing new faces in the cabinet from the BJP quota. “We are in the process of analysing the reasons after which a course correction would begin, which may take a week to 10 days,” Shanta said.

In the report, Tandon has raised the issue of drugs, lack of clarity on property tax, traders and industrialists feeling ignored due to special favours to farmers and people living in rural area; skyrocketing prices of sand and gravel; and the Akali halqa in-charge system, as reasons for the poor performance.

Over-dependence on bureaucracy, lack of contact with public and no focus on basic amenities; some counter-productive development schemes launched by the government; and too many changes in the tax system were also reported to have led to the poor poll performance.

A section of the BJP leadership is citing the state being ruled by one family for poor performance in the polls but it’s still not clear whether the Tandon committee would bring it on record or not. Also, the role of the party leadership at the state level during the poll is being reviewed or not, the committee report is silent on the issue.

On being asked that the state government departments dealing with property tax and mining of sand and gravel were with ministers from the BJP, Shanta said the exercise that had begun would deal with all issues. Contrary to the BJP’s stand on shifting the entire blame on the SAD for poll debacle, Shanta, for the first time, said it was a collective failure.

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