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Renovation of vacant offices of Punjab ministers gets underway

Cabinet expansion? At present, nine berths of ministers are vacant; as per rules, Punjab can have 17 ministers besides Punjab CM Capt Amarinder; a week’s time has been given for completing the task

punjab Updated: Apr 07, 2018 10:59 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Renovation of vacant offices,Punjab ministers,Punjab cabinet expansion
A worker polishing furniture in room number 19 on the seventh floor of the secretariat. (HT Photo)

In a development signalling that the much-awaited expansion in the council of ministers in Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government may take place anytime soon, the general administration department (GAD) has started renovation of rooms for the new cabinet ministers.

At present, nine berths of ministers are vacant. As per the rule, Punjab can have 17 ministers besides the CM. As per information, GAD and the co-ordination and protocol department recently received a letter from the chief secretary’s office for renovating all rooms meant for cabinet ministers.

Those being renovated include rooms 20 and 31 on the third floor, rooms 6, 25, 30 on the fifth floor, room 33 on the sixth floor and rooms 33, 31, 27 and 19 on the seventh floor of the secretariat.

Among young faces are in the reckoning are Sangrur MLA Vijay Singla, national youth Congress president and Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Bharat Bhushan Ashu from Ludhiana West.

“A week’s time was given for completing the task. The speedy preparation of rooms for the new ministers indicates that cabinet expansion may take place next week,” said a senior official.

After coming to power in March last year, chief minister Amarinder had inducted nine cabinet ministers in the government but the number went down to eight after Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh resigned following controversies. Many ministerial aspirants are anxiously waiting for the expansion with senior MLAs lobbying hard to find place in the cabinet.

In February this year, the CM during a media interaction had said he would expand his cabinet before the budget session that started on March 20 and concluded on March 28. But the expansion was postponed after the budget session keeping in mind the three-day plenary session of the Congress that ended in Delhi on March 18.

Amarinder, who is holding at least 42 departments, had said many times that he is “overburdened” with the work and wants to see both young and experienced faces to take charge of the departments.

In the expansion, the party will try to balance religion, caste, region amid other things. After Rana’s exit, there is no minister from Doaba and the only three-time MLA from the region is Sangat Singh Gilzian from Urmur segment of Hoshiarpur district.

The other probables for cabinet berths are Sukhjindder Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak), OP Soni (Amritsar Central), Raj Kumar Verka (Amritsar North), Rana Gurmeet Sodhi (Guruharsarai), Rakesh Pandey (Ludhiana North), Randeep Nabha (Amloh) and Gurpreet Kangar (Rampura Phull).

Among young faces are in the reckoning are Sangrur MLA Vijay Singla, national youth Congress president and Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Bharat Bhushan Ashu from Ludhiana West, Kuljit Nagra from Fatehgarh Sahib, Pargat Singh from Jalandhar Cantonment and Raj Kumar from Chabbewal.

First Published: Apr 07, 2018 10:59 IST