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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Punjab cabinet to get 3 more ministers on Tuesday

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 09, 2014
First Published: 00:54 IST(9/6/2014) | Last Updated: 01:50 IST(9/6/2014)

As the Punjab government seeks to amend its image and functioning after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, the state cabinet would get three more ministers on Tuesday.

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Two of these three berths were rendered vacant over two years ago. In May 2012, Tota Singh was made to resign as agriculture minister after conviction in a corruption case. In March that year, Bibi Jagir Kaur, who held the portfolios of water supply, sanitation and social security, had resigned after she was jailed for forcing her daughter to abort her child. The third berth fell vacant this May 22, when Sarwan Singh Phillaur resigned as jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister after his son Damanvir Singh's name figured in the drug racket.
 
The portfolios - particularly agriculture and water supply that are considered administratively and politically important - are now with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Though the names were not confirmed, sources said experienced leaders would be inducted. Officials in the CM office, however, told HT on the condition of anonymity that three of four 'shortlisted' SAD MLAs - Gurbachan Singh Babehali (Gurdaspur), Hari Singh Zira (Zira), Sohan Singh Thandal (Chabbewal) and Mohinder Kaur Josh (Sham Chaurasi) - are expected to take oath. The CM and his deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal, had finalised the names and would make an announcement on Monday, sources added. The name of NK Sharma, the realty-tycoon MLA from Dera Bassi, was also doing the rounds.

Babehali is a second-time MLA and is at present the chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) for agriculture. Hari Singh Zira is a third-time MLA and remained a minister in the Surjit Singh Barnala government in the '80s. Thandal, a third-time MLA, is CPS for irrigation, while Josh, also a third-time MLA, is CPS for medical education and research. Sharma is CPS for industry and considered quite close to Sukhbir.


The frontrunners

Gurbachan Singh Babehali, MLA from Gurdaspur, is at present the chief parliamentary secretary for agriculture

Hari Singh Zira, MLA from Zira, is a third-time legislator and was minister in SS Barnala govt in the '80s

Sohan Singh Thandal, from Chabbewal, is third-time legislator, and is CPS now; held post in 1997-2002 govt

Mohinder Kaur Josh, from Sham Chaurasi, is third-time MLA and CPS for medical education and research

NK Sharma, realty-tycoon MLA from Dera Bassi, is CPS for industry; close to deputy CM and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal

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