Religion, region balance: Capt Amarinder cabinet gets nine new ministers | punjab | top | Hindustan Times
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Religion, region balance: Capt Amarinder cabinet gets nine new ministers

Governor V P Singh Badnore administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan.

punjab Updated: Apr 21, 2018 19:21 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Amarinder Singh,Punjab ministers
(From left) OP Soni, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Vijay Inder Singla, and Rana Gurmeet Sodhi will be among nine ministers who will take oath in Raj Bhawan on Saturday at 6 pm.(HT Photo)

Nine new cabinet ministers were inducted into the Punjab cabinet on Saturday. The much-delayed expansion of the Punjab cabinet took place with the Congress finalising names of nine new ministers after two-day marathon meetings between Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Governor V P Singh Badnore administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan here. Their portfolios would be announced later. Two ministers of state, Razia Sultana and Aruna Chaudhary, were also elevated to the cabinet rank.

Striking a region and religion balance, four of the new ministers are Hindus and five Jat Sikhs. The politically important Malwa belt has bagged the highest number of five slots followed by Majha (3) and Doaba (1). There is no Dalit among the new ministers.

It would be first stint as minister for all new inductees though most have won three or more times with the exception of Hoshiarpur MLA Sunder Sham Arora, who was elected for the second time, Vijay Inder Singla, a former MP, who won as MLA for the first time from Sangrur, and two-time MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who represents Ludhiana West seat.

Arora had the backing of state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar so did Ashu. Singla and Ashu are also Rahul’s protégés.

Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was a unanimous choice in the new cabinet, which largely has the stamp of the CM, who has been able to secure berths for many of his loyalists. Raja Sansi MLA Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Guru Har Sahai MLA Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Mohali legislator Balbir Sidhu, Rampura Phul MLA Gurpreet Kangar and five-time MLA OP Soni, who represents Amritsar Central segment, all had the CM’s backing.

Amarinder had said in a statement that seniority was key criterion (though two senior-most MLAs from Ludhiana, Surinder Dawar and Rakesh Pandey, are not part of the list) and there was total consensus on the names.

“Due representation has been given to all the regions along with capabilities and strengths of ministers. All are experienced grass-roots leaders,” the CM said in the statement.

Singla and Ashu are also Rahul’s protégés. Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was a unanimous choice in the new cabinet, which largely has the stamp of the CM, who has been able to secure berths for many of his loyalists. Raja Sansi MLA Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Guru Har Sahai MLA Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Mohali legislator Balbir Sidhu, Rampura Phul MLA Gurpreet Kangar and five-time MLA OP Soni, who represents Amritsar Central segment, all had the CM’s backing.

(The story has been updated)