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Punjab cabinet expansion before budget session: CM Amarinder

The chief minister said that the cabinet expansion would be done before the budget session so that my new ministers take full command in the session.

punjab Updated: Feb 03, 2018 23:19 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Captain Amarinder,Punjab cabinet expansion,IAS officer Suresh Kumar
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh (HT File)

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said he will expand his cabinet before the budget session of the state assembly, likely to begin in the second week of March.

“I think the time has come when I should have a full-fledged council of ministers. Even I can’t be handling the charge of around 40 different departments for long. The cabinet expansion would be done before the budget session so that my new ministers take full command in the session,” he said.

He also did not rule out reshuffling of the departments of present ministers. “I will keep only a few portfolios with me. Reshuffling is likely when I have to distribute most of the charges among the new and old ministers.”

ON SURESH KUMAR

The CM said retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar, whose appointment as his chief principal secretary was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana high court will be back on his earlier post.

“Why on some other post or adviser? He will be made my chief principal secretary. As long as I am the chief minister, Suresh will be part of the government. We are taking legal recourse and are going to challenge the decision of the high court before a double bench,” he said in reply to a question.

Also Read: No problem in welcoming Justin Trudeau: Amarinder Singh

‘NO ISSUES WITH SIDHU’

Ruling out any differences with local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has publicly expressed his displeasure over not being consulted on selection of Amritsar’s mayor, Amarinder said Sidhu was not supposed to be consulted on the issue.

“Selection of mayor is the prerogative of the party. A committee comprising PPCC chief, state affairs in-charge Asha Kumari, me and general secretaries selected the mayor. It was not a government matter but was a party affair,” he said.

He added that he had no issues with Sidhu, who came to his residence for lunch on Saturday afternoon.

‘NO VIOLATION OF RULES IN MOHALI LAND DEAL’

Amarinder asserted that there was no violation of rules or conflict of interest in his Mohali land deal.

He accused opposition leaders of unnecessarily creating a controversy in this regard to promote their vested political interests.

“Is the CM not allowed to purchase land? They are trying to befool the people with baseless allegations of conflict of interest,” he said.

Capt also claimed that he had paid higher than the DC rate to purchase the land, located in Siswan in Mohali, since the owner was not very keen to sell the plot. “Against the DC rate of Rs 30 lakh, I actually paid double the amount — at about Rs 60 lakh per acre.”

Asserting that his land had nothing to do with the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), the CM said he planned to construct a small farmhouse there since he did not have a house in Chandigarh, besides planting 32 varieties of fruit trees.

He also clarified that he had no intention of using the two khasras of forest land, covered by the Act. “These will be left as they are, without even fencing of any sort,” he said while adding that the remaining part of the land had been denotified way back in 2011 by the previous government.

The CM said he already owned 15 acres in Majri village, which he had purchased about 25 years ago. That piece of land was subject to restrictions under PLPA and continued to remain so, he added.

First Published: Feb 03, 2018 23:18 IST