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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Reshuffle of state BJP ministers on the cards

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 23, 2014
First Published: 08:17 IST(23/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:23 IST(23/6/2014)

On Tuesday, the BJP committee tasked with studying the party’s relatively poor performance in Punjab in the Lok Sabha polls is likely to submit its report. A reshuffle of the party’s four ministers in the SAD-BJP government could follow, sources have told HT.

A top BJP leader said there was a “strong possibility” of a reshuffle, and new faces are expected to come into the Parkash Singh Badal cabinet, which has 18 members including the chief minister.

This is close on the heels of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) shuffling portfolios after inducting three ministers from its fold.

The BJP ministers in Punjab are: Anil Joshi, who holds the local bodies portfolio along with medical education and research; Chunni Lal Bhagat, forests and wildlife, and labour; Madan Mohan Mittal, industries and commerce, technical education and industrial training, and parliamentary affairs; and Surjit Kumar Jyani, who holds health and family welfare along with social security and development of women and children.

The last change in the BJP share of the Punjab cabinet was in September 2013, when only the portfolios were exchanged. At that time, too, non-performance was cited as a reason.

Now, an actual reshuffle is expected after the BJP’s Punjab affairs incharge Shanta Kumar, national general JP Nadda and senior leader Shyam Jajju meet on Tuesday and discuss the performance report, prepared by a panel led by Balramji Dass Tandon.

The coalition, in power in Punjab for seven consecutive years, had only managed to retain its tally of six out of Punjab’s 13 seats, despite the BJP making a sweep nationally. The SAD lost a seat to finish with four, while the BJP won two, up from its lone seat in 2009.

Overall, the anti-incumbency against the state regime was apparent in how the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won all its four seats in Punjab; the Congress got three. There have since been hostile exchanges between the SAD and the state BJP over reasons for the poor show, as Akalis were being seen as patronising the drug trade and the sand mafia, two issues that dominated the elections in the state.

As a senior leader of the BJP underlined that “non-performers have to go”, which indicates bringing in new faces. However, what might delay the reshuffle is the fact that the national leaders are busy with works of the new central government. Also, the BJP still to get a regular national president after Rajnath Singh became union home minister.

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