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Two more Punjab MLAs resign from party posts over not getting cabinet berths

The resignation came just hours before the swearing in of the nine new ministers into the Punjab cabinet.

punjab Updated: Apr 21, 2018 19:46 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Congress MLAs Nathu Ram (left) and Surjit Dhiman interact with media in Dirba of Sangrur on Saturday.(HT Photo)

A few hours before the swearing-in ceremony of nine new cabinet ministers in the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on Saturday, two more MLAs resigned from party posts in protest against ‘inadquate representation’ of backward classes (BCs) and scheduled castes (SCs).

Addressing a joint press conference here, Amargarh MLA Surjit Dhiman and Balluana MLA Nathu Ram alleged that the high command has ignored their communities and disappointed Dalit voters in the state. While Dhiman belongs to Ramgarhia community, Nathu Ram is Dalit leader.

Dhiman was vice-president of the Punjab Congress while Nathu Ram was its general secretary. They said they have resigned from these positions, but would remain party members and continue as MLAs.

The development comes a day after another MLA from Hoshiarpur’s Urmur seat, Sangat Singh Gilzian, resigned from party posts over the same reason.

The two MLAs said they ‘apologise’ to their communities for being neglected.

“I have no greed for any ministry but there is no minister in the state cabinet who belongs to the BC community. The community members are questioning us. We are unable to convince them. I apologise to my community,” said Dhiman, who is three-time MLA.

He added, “As per the population of backward classes, there should have been 3 to 4 MLAs from the community but the party totally ignored us.”

Nathu Ram, who is two-time MLA, said, “Though I was rewarded with many positions in the Punjab Congress, the adequate representation of the SC community in the cabinet was also required.”

“The population of SCs is 34% in Punjab, but there are only three SCs ministers in the state cabinet. There should have been at least five SC ministers,” he said.

“The party’s lapse in this regard will also influence upcoming Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan,” he added.

Navtej Singh Cheema also shows resentment

Meanwhile, two-time MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi Navtej Singh Cheema has also shown resentment against the party over not including him in the state cabinet.

Navtej Singh Cheema, while talking to HT in Jalandhar, said, “I have fought three elections of which I have won two. I have also served as a district president for six years. Moreover, I am the only Jat Sikh face in the Doaba region fulfilling all the criteria. Getting a ministry was my right, which the party has given to a junior MLA,” Cheema said.

“I will always stand with the party and continue to serve as an MLA, but the resentment will remain with the party for not valuing its faithful leader, whose elders had also served the Congress for long,” he said.

From Doaba region, the Captain government has picked up only Sunder Sham Arora, two-time MLA from Hoshiarpur, for the cabinet expansion.

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 19:43 IST