Punjab cabinet expansion: Singla takes charge, sulking Soni gets environment portfolio
School education minister Om Parkash Soni, a five-time MLA, was given charge of the environment portfolio too on Monday evening. Ministers Balbir Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi, both three-time MLAs, too are learnt to be unhappy.punjab Updated: Apr 24, 2018 12:50 IST
Two days after nine new ministers were sworn in, Congress state leadership on Monday remained busy pacifying those left out or unhappy with their portfolios even as state leaders spoke in different voices.
School education minister Om Parkash Soni, a five-time MLA, was given charge of the environment portfolio too on Monday evening. Ministers Balbir Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi, both three-time MLAs, too are learnt to be unhappy. Sidhu has been allotted animal husbandry and labour while technical education minister Channi has been given additional charge of employment generation and science and technology.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said they are reaching out to all MLAs who are upset. “We have confidence to carry everybody along. We will adjust them in positions in the party and government,” he said.
But Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Asha Kumari, denied any hearburn.
Refuting that three MLAs, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Surjit Dhiman and Nathu Ram, have resigned from party posts, she accused the media of provoking MLAs for a reaction. “I have not received any resignation nor has any MLA called me up to protest,” she told reporters. The three MLAs hail from SC and BC communities.
Meetings were held at the Punjab Bhawan on Sunday and Monday with MLAs from Dalit and backward classes who are resentful over being ignored.
Meanwhile, Raj Kumar Verka, a front runner for cabinet berth from Majha as a Dalit leader, has sought a meeting with senior party leader Ashok Gehlot in New Delhi.
All Dalit ministers and MLAs of the party were in Delhi on Monday for the party’s rally in support of the community. Verka said the Valmiki community had been left unrepresented in the cabinet.
Singla takes charge, others to join today
Chandigarh: Of the nine new ministers sworn in on Saturday, only Vijay Inder Singla, took charge as PWD and IT minister on Monday. The remaining eight are expected to take charge on Tuesday.
Congress secretary in-charge of Punjab, Asha Kumari, state unit chief Sunil Jakhar and ministers Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Gurpreet Singh Kangar were also present.
Singla said his prime focus will be on bringing transparency in work and ensuring quality. “We will use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to inform people of the project, amount of material being used and the completion time. A monitoring mechanism will be there to check the quality of the work being done,” he said.
He said there will be zero tolerance for corruption. “All with tainted past will have to mend their ways as I will not succumb to any pressure,” he said.
First Published: Apr 24, 2018 12:50 IST