Navjot Sidhu refuses new portfolio, left out of key govt panels
Two days after divesting Navjot Singh Sidhu of the local government and tourism portfolios, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday left him out of eight consultative groups constituted to monitor the state government’s flagship schemes.
The move signalled a widening rift between Amarinder and Sidhu, who is yet to take charge of his new ministerial assignment of power and renewable energy sources. Sidhu camping in New Delhi to meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi before deciding his next steps, party insiders familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
Besides Sidhu, medical education and research minister Om Prakash Soni also did not figure in consultative groups that include all other 15 ministers, seven Congress MLAs and a couple of senior officials.
The chief minister will be heading the groups on urban renewal and reforms, and drug campaign, a government press release said. Amarinder’s number two Brahm Mohindra, who replaced Sidhu as local bodies minister, will be part of the panel on urban renewal.
The objective of the consultative groups, according to the chief minister, was to accelerate the pace of implementation of his government’s flagship programmes/schemes and to firm up pro-poor schemes by involving elected representatives and communities.
The groups have been mandated to review and recommend improvements, and their reports would be considered by the council of ministers in its meeting next month.
While six ministers have been nominated as chairmen of consultative groups, the others figure as their members. Cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa will head the panel on farm debt waiver, with revenue minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and SC welfare minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot as members.
Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu heads two panels on universal health insurance and “Mission Tandrust Punjab”. The “Ghar Ghar Rozgar” panel will be headed by technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi, with industry minister Sunder Sham Arora as a member.
The group on food security will be headed by food and supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu. Rural development and panchayat minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa will be heading a panel on rural development, with Dharamsot and water supply and sanitation minister Razia Sultana as members.
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