No consensus on Punjab cabinet expansion, Amarinder to meet Rahul Gandhi today too | punjab | top | Hindustan Times
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No consensus on Punjab cabinet expansion, Amarinder to meet Rahul Gandhi today too

An expansion and reshuffle in the cabinet has been talked about for at least the past six months. It was put off earlier taking the plea of being busy in the Gurdasdpur Lok Sabha bypoll and the civic body polls.

punjab Updated: Apr 20, 2018 09:10 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
“Rahul-
“Rahul-(HT Ffile )

A three-hour meeting chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi to finalise names for nine vacant slots in Punjab’s council of ministers ended without consensus in New Delhi on Thursday, with a decision to meet again on Friday.

The meeting was attended by chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, state unit president and MP Sunil Jakhar, state affairs in-charge Asha Kumari, and co-incharge Harish Chaudhary. “We will now discuss names of MLAs who have got elected at least for a second term; and work out regional, caste and religion combinations,” said a leader who was part of the meeting, with a request for anonymity.The cabinet can have 18 ministers, including the chief minister.

Amarinder is learnt to be eager to keep a slot vacant for the return of Rana Gurjit Singh, who had to quit as minister after being embroiled in a sand mining contract “scam”.

Jakhar told HT that no deadline was fixed for the expansion and reshuffle, “At this stage I can say a few names of probables for the coveted posts were discussed, but there was no consensus.” There was no discussion on the reported proposal to attach new MLAs as legislative assistants with ministers, it is learnt.

“Besides the cabinet expansion, we discussed other matters concerning the state,” Jakhar added. Another leader, requesting anonymity too, said, “Rahul-ji sought clarity on the farm debt waiver scheme and other promises made by the party before the elections of 2017.”After the meeting with Rahul, the four leaders met at Kapurthala House for 45 minutes, it is learnt.

An expansion and reshuffle in the cabinet has been talked about for at least the past six months. It was put off earlier taking the plea of being busy in the Gurdasdpur Lok Sabha bypoll and the civic body polls.

Rana to return?

Amarinder is learnt to be eager to keep a slot vacant for the return of Rana Gurjit Singh, who had to quit as minister after being embroiled in a sand mining contract “scam”. The party’s options in Doaba, the belt Rana comes from, are limited.

The largest and politically important region of Malwa is likely to bag five slots; Majha may get two and Doaba, one.

In Malwa, Ludhiana district may get two berths, and the party has to choose among three Hindu faces, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Rakesh Pandey and Surinder Dawar. Fatehgarh Sahib legislator Kuljit Singh Nagra, considered to be in the Rahul camp, is said to be competing with Randeep Singh Nabha to whom the CM has promised a cabinet berth, said leaders involved in past meetings. Other in the reckoning are Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Vijay Inder Singla and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, all from Malwa.

In Majha, the CM is keen on five-timer OP Soni; others in the race are Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria. Raj Kumar Verka is also a keen contender, for being a Dalit leader.