CHANDIGARH: New Congress MLAs in Punjab are lobbying hard to get into the cabinet of Captain Amarinder Singh, which will be sworn-in on March 16 here. With the party coming back to power after a gap of 10 years, GOP lawmakers are a bit hungry.
Among the frontrunners for cabinet berths are cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who joined the Congress just 19 days before the polls after having resigned from the BJP last year. Fifty-four-year-old Sidhu, a first-time MLA, is also eyeing the post of deputy chief minister, which he was apparently promised before he joined the party.
Capt Amarinder Singh has said the decision on having a deputy will be taken by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Amarinder is traveling to Delhi on Tuesday to meet high command leaders including Rahul Gandhi. His cabinet will be sworn in at Raj Bhawan here by Punjab governor V P Singh Bhandore on Thursday.
Manpreet Singh Badal, who too joined the Congress from Akali Dal last year, will be the finance minister, a post he held in the outgoing Parkash Singh Badal government too.
Besides Badal, the others in the race are Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and former Olympic hockey player Pargat Singh. Both are Jat Sikhs from the Majtha and Doaba belts of the state, respectively.
The state can have a maximum of 18 ministers within which caste, regional and religious factors would have to be accommodated.
The other probabilities are Balbir Singh Sidhu from Mohali, Brahm Mohindra, a Hindu leader from Patiala, Charanjit Singh Channi from Chamkaur Sahib, Dr Raj Kumar Verka from Amritsar, Sadhu Singh Dharamkot, all Dalits. Also in the reckoning are Rana Gurjit Singh from Kapurthala and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi from Guruharsahai, and first-time MLA Amit Vij from Pathankot.
Besides, former MP Vijay Inder Singla from Sangrur, Indian Youth Congress president Amarinder Raja Warring from Gidderbaha and Kuljit Nagra from Fategarh Sahib, all Rahul Gandhi’s favorites, are in with a shout.
Among the women lawmakers, the race is between Aruna Chaudhary, a Hindu, and Razia Sultana, a Muslim.
Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar and former minister Jagmoahn Singh Kang missed out on ministerial opportunities as they lost their elections.