Punjab Cabinet expansion: Six new faces inducted as Congress weighs in caste equations, ‘tainted’ ex-minister gets berth

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Updated: September 26, 2021 5:16 PM

Those inducted in the Cabinet include Pargat Singh, Raj Kumar Verka, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Kuljit Nagra and Rana Gurjit Singh. 

First Cabinet expansion of Charanjit Singh Channi-led Punjab government.

The first Cabinet expansion of the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Punjab government on Sunday with seven new faces being inducted and five ministers, who were part of the Amarinder Singh-led government, being dropped. All the 15 ministers of the Punjab Cabinet were administered the oath of the office by governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh.

Those inducted in the Cabinet include Pargat Singh, Raj Kumar Verka, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Randeep Singh Nabha and Rana Gurjit Singh. 

The party retained Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Badal, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Vijay Inder Singla, Aruna Chaudhary, Razia Sultana and Bharat Bhushan Ashu. The portfolios of these ministers are likely to remain unchanged. 

Pargat Singh, a hockey plater-turned-politician, is considered a close aide of Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. In fact, Pargat Singh was the one who opened the revolt against the Captain which eventually led to the change of guards in the state.

Brahm Mohindra, a strong Hindu face in the state, is the senior-most leader of the Punjab Congress and considered a close confidante of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. On the other hand, Nabha, Verka, Gilzian, Pargat Singh, Warring, and Kotli are completely new to the job, having no prior experience of working as a minister.

Hours before the expansion, a section of Congress leaders from the state on Sunday wrote to party’s state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu demanding that tainted former minister Rana Gurjit Singh should not be included.

The leaders also demanded that the cabinet berth may instead be filled up by giving representation to a clean Dalit leader. The copy of the letter was also sent to Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

Rana Gurjit Singh, after facing flak from the Opposition over allegations of impropriety in the auction of sand mining contracts, had to resign from the previous Amarinder Singh cabinet in 2018. At that time, he had held Irrigation and Power portfolios.

In another development, Amloh legislator Randeep Singh Nabha is also learnt to be upset over being ignored for the ministerial post in the new cabinet. Six-time MLA Rakesh Pandey too expressed unhappiness over the proposed names in the expansion alleging seniors were ignored. 

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