Capt to take Dalits, Hindus, OBCs in expanded Cabinet – The Tribune

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6

To be expanded in the first week of June, the Punjab Cabinet will be a heady cocktail of caste, religion and region. Besides the inclusion of eight more ministers, the post of Deputy Speaker too fill be filled.
Other than the CM, the Punjab Cabinet can have 17 ministers. The Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government already has nine ministers, two of them Ministers of State.
At least two MLAs from the Dalit community, two from upper caste Hindus and one representing OBCs will join the Cabinet. The rest of the slots will go to Jat Sikhs. An MLA each from Ludhiana and Doaba and two from Amritsar will be allotted a berth.
Of these new entrants, at least two will be young faces. The Congress high command in Delhi, during the swearing-in in March, had asked Amarinder Singh to “consider having younger faces in his team.” Having taken senior MLAs and women legislators in the ministry already, the CM is now expected to give representation to the youth brigade in the first Cabinet expansion. There is little doubt that the only person whose word will count in this exercise will be the CM himself. That is why most berth hopefuls are flocking to the CM rather than rushing to Delhi.
Sources in the Punjab Government say the caste, religion and region dynamics have been worked out and the candidates are expected to be selected by the month-end. Among the hopefuls are Raj Kumar Verka, Surjit Singh Dhiman, OP Soni, Rakesh Panday, Vijay Inder Singla, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Randeep Singh Nabha, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Darshan Singh Brar, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Ajaib Singh Bhatti.
The Cabinet expansion is to be done within a month, well before the Budget session. The government has decided to keep the appointment of 20 parliamentary secretaries and one chief parliamentary secretary on hold till then. The Punjab Chief Parliamentary Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salaries, Allowance Power, Privileges and Amenities) Bill is ready. But the government, wary of such appointments being challenged, is in no rush.


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