Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who took charge of the top post on 20 September, inducted 15 new ministers into his cabinet on Sunday, less than five months ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
Eight ministers from former CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s ministry have been included in the Channi cabinet. Channi, 58, was sworn in as the CM of Punjab on Monday after the sudden resignation of Amarinder Singh under pressure from the Congress high command.
Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath to the 15 cabinet ministers at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon. The following were sworn in as cabinet ministers: Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Singh Badal, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhary, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Rana Gurjeet Singh, Razia Sultana, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Randeep Singh Nabha, Raj Kumar Verka, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Pargat Singh, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Gurkirat Singh Kotli.
In a balancing act ahead of Punjab Assembly polls due in less than five months, seven new faces were inducted into the Channi’s Cabinet on Sunday even as the Congress played it safe by dropping five and retaining eight ministers in the previous Captain Amarinder Singh government.
The eight ministers in the Amarinder government who were retained in the cabinet included Mohindra, Badal, Sarkaria, Bajwa, Singla, Chaudhary, Sultana and Ashu.
The seven new faces inducted into the cabinet included Gilzian, Pargat Singh, Warring, Verka, Kotli, Gurjeet Singh and Nabha. Former irrigation minister Gurjeet Singh was also re-inducted in the Cabinet. He had earlier resigned from the Amarinder government following corruption allegations in the allotment of sand mines to his ex-employees.
The five ministers – deemed close to former CM Amarinder Singh – who
were dropped are health minister Balbir Sidhu, revenue minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, industries minister Sunder Sham Arora, social welfare minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and sports minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi.
Punjab Cabinet can have a maximum of 18 ministers including the CM.
With the induction of 15 ministers and two deputy CMs, CM Channi has filled all the slots available for ministers.
The list of the new ministers was finalised on Friday night following the CM’s meeting with the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Channi, who took over as the Chief Minister on Monday, had visited Delhi thrice since his oath to finalise the list of ministers.