Chaani to retain some, drop some of Capt loyalists

| | Chandigarh
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Chaani to retain some, drop some of Capt loyalists

Sunday, 26 September 2021 | PNS | Chandigarh

After several rounds of discussion with the high command, a couple of them extending till the wee hours, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Saturday met Governor Banwarilal Purohit here to submit the names of Ministers likely to be inducted into the new Cabinet and take oath on Sunday.

Party sources indicated that those likely to be dropped from the previous Captain Amarinder Singh Cabinet include Balbir Singh Sidhu, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Sundar Shyam Arora. The new faces in the Cabinet are likely to be Pargat Singh, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Raj Kumar Verka, Amarinder Raja Warring and Gurpreet Kotli.

Sources indicated that the party has decided to retain Vijay Inder Singla, Manpreet Singh Badal, Brahm Mohindra, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Arunu Chaudhary, Razia Sultana and Bharat Bhushan Ashu from the Capt Amarinder Singh Government. After meeting the Governor on Saturday afternoon, Channi told reporters the oath-taking ceremony for the new Ministers will take place at 4:30 pm on Sunday.  His meeting with the Governor came barely hours after he returned from Delhi having held a final round of discussion with the party high command on the Cabinet formation. However, five legislators -- Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Sunder Sham Arora -- who were Ministers in the Amarinder Singh-led Cabinet are likely to be dropped, sources said.

A consensus on the names for the Channi-led Cabinet was reached during his meeting with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other senior party members in the national Capital. Channi was summoned to Delhi by the Congress high command on Friday to discuss the Cabinet formation. The visit came within hours of him returning from the national capital.

Sources informed The Pioneer that the party high command was cautious to select the names for the Cabinet to avoid any further revolt or dissatisfaction among the party leaders, while maintaining balance among all sections, categories, regions, and castes.

While deciding on the Cabinet expansion, the Congress party is working on three parameters - strengthening its social base, taking on board MLAs from former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s camp, and countering the anti-incumbency factor.

“Actually, the party is working on three factors. It is selecting candidates in a way that the party’s social base is strengthened in Punjab to benefit it in the ensuing polls. Secondly, efforts are being made to reach out to the MLAs close to Capt Amarinder Singh so that there would be no protests in Punjab in future, especially when the former Chief Minister has already revolted openly against the party,” said a senior party leader, privy to the developments.

The leader maintained that it could be possible that some MLAs, who backed Capt Amarinder in his battle for supremacy with Sidhu, as the party high command has talked to and consulted the leaders hailing from the anti-Sidhu camp.  In addition, the leader said, the main focus of the party high command is to decide on names to counter the strong anti-incumbency factor working against it. “Anti-incumbency factor is quite strong against the Congress...so some new faces would be inducted in the Cabinet to check the same,” added the leader. 

It has been learnt that to strike balance among all categories, the party may have about four Ministers from SC/ST, BC or OBC categories, five Hindu faces, while also maintaining an equilibrium between all three regions - Majha, Malwa, and Doaba.

 Channi, after taking oath as the Chief Minister on September 20, first visited Delhi on Tuesday along with his two deputies and Sidhu. While the Gandhis were vacationing at Shimla, they met senior leaders All India Congress Committee general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, Punjab party affairs in-charge Harish Rawat and two central observers - Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary with the names of probables for induction into the Ministry. The Chief Minister was again called by Rahul to Delhi on Thursday, where he held back to back meetings first with Venugopal and Rawat among others, followed by another with Rahul till 2 am. Channi was again called considering fresh feedback, taken at the eleventh hour, from some of the senior leaders, including the State’s former party chief Sunil Jakhar.

A total of 18 MLAs can be included in the Cabinet, including Chief Minister Channi and two of his deputies Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni. 

 To ensure better coordination between the Government and people’s representatives, Channi on Saturday said he would meet the Ministers, MLAs and other political functionaries every Tuesday in his office from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.   A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said he Chief Minister ordered that Cabinet meetings would be held every Tuesday at 3 pm and directed all the Administrative Secretaries/ Heads of Department to remain present in their offices during this time on  every Tuesday. Likewise he also asked them not to leave their offices till the Cabinet meeting is over.

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