CHANDIGARH: To chants from the Bhagwad Gita, Guru Granth Sahib, Quran and Bible, Capt Amarinder Singh stepped into his office on the second floor of the Punjab Secretariat to begin his second stint as the state's chief minister on Thursday. His first assignment was allocation of portfolios to his nine-member council of ministers.
Beginning his second time in power, Amarinder kept it simple, both at the swearing in ceremony earlier in the day and at his 'taking charge' festivity. A long retinue of aides, colleagues and supporters trailed him into the office.
After assuming charge, Amarinder said several important decisions would be taken at the cabinet's first meeting on Saturday. He spelled out some priority areas: a special task force (STF) to wipe out Punjab's drug menace within four weeks. It's a promise made in the Congress manifesto for the elections, so the time starts ticking now. The other items on his agenda are farm loan waiver, industrial revival and employment generation.
The captain kept several key portfolios to himself, such as General Administration, Personnel, Home Affairs and Justice, Vigilance and several others not yet ladled out to other ministers.
Brahm Mohindra has been given Health and Family Welfare, Research and Medical Education and Parliamentary Affairs while Navjot Singh Sidhu will handle Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums.
As expected, Manpreet Singh Badal, the finance minister in the Parkash Singh Badal government, gets to do the same job as minister for Finance, Planning and Employment Generation.
Forests, Printing and Stationery, Welfare of SCs and BCs has been allocated to Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has been given the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayats and Water Supply and Sanitation.
Rana Gurjit Singh had been allotted Irrigation and Power and Charanjit Singh Channi Technical Education and Industrial Training ministry. Minister of state Aruna Chaudhary has been assigned Higher Education and School Education as an independent charge. The other minister of state Razia Sultana got PWD (B&R), Social Security and Development of Women and Children, also as independent charge.