Punjabs new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi with his Cabinet after the oath-taking ceremony in Chandigarh on Sunday


DW BUREAU / Chandigarh With barely five months to go for assembly elections, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday inducted 15 ministers, dropping five Amarinder Singh loyalists from the previous ministry.The exercise, which has Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's stamp all over it, saw seven new faces finding a place in the Cabinet. The Congress had in mind social and regional equations in the induction of ministers with AICC general secretary Harish Rawat dubbing it as a "balanced cabinet." The Cabinet expansion came a week after Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister following a bitter power tussle with Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and was replaced by Channi. The new faces in the Channi Ministry are Randeep Singh Nabha, Raj Kumar Verka, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Pargat Singh, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and Gurkirat Singh Kotli. Rana Gurjit Singh has made a comeback, having resigned in 2018 from the Amarinder Singh Ministry after facing flak from the Opposition over allegations of impropriety in the auction of sand mining contracts. He has been re-inducted despite a section of Congress legislators objecting to his name for the ministerial berth. The name of four-time MLA Nabha was confirmed at the last hour as earlier the name of Kuljit Singh Nagra was considered final in the list of new faces, according to sources. Nagra later in a tweet said he had decided not to be part of the cabinet. Among the new entrants, Verka belongs to the Scheduled Castes community and Gilzian is from other backward classes (OBC). Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the legislators at a ceremony here. Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Singh Badal, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhary, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Razia Sultana, Vijay Inder Singla and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who were ministers in the previous Amarinder Singh government, were retained. Rana Gurjit Singh, Mohindra and Singla are considered close to Amarinder Singh. 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, did not find a place in the new ministry. In the cabinet, nine ministers represent Malwa, three Doaba and six Majha regions. Two deputy chief ministers were from the Majha region. After the Cabinet expansion, now all eyes will be on the allocation of portfolios. Jalandhar Cantt legislator Pargat Singh, considered close to the party's state unit chief Navjot Sidhu, is the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary. Pargat, who is a former Indian Hockey Captain, had targeted Amarinder Singh over unfulfilled promises and had even accused Amarinder's former political secretary of threatening him. Raj Kumar Verka, a legislator from Amritsar-West, belongs to the Scheduled Caste community. Gurkirat Singh Kotli, 47, MLA from Khanna, is a grandson of former chief minister Beant Singh. He had faced trial in the 1994 case of abduction and molestation of a French tourist. In 1999, he was acquitted in the case. Sangat Singh Gilzian, a three-time legislator and presently representing Urmar constituency in Hoshiarpur district, belongs to the OBC community and is also presently Punjab Congress working president A youth face Amarinder Singh Raja Warring is a legislator from Gidderbaha and is considered close to Navjot Sidhu. He had defeated Manpreet Singh Badal, who had then floated his own party, in 2012 from Gidderbaha. He had remained Youth Congress president from 2014 till 2018. (editor@dailyworld.in)


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