CHANDIGARH: The tussle between Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu has proved beneficial for many ministers in the state, who have been elevated, sources say, so that they don’t join Sidhu’s camp.
In April this year, during campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, Amarinder had said that ministers who failed to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate in their constituency would be dropped from the Cabinet. He also said that the party’s legislators would not be given tickets to contest the next Assembly elections if the Congress candidates trailed in their Assembly segment.
But in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, most of the ministers in whose constituencies the Congress candidates trailed in the parliamentary elections were elevated and given important departments.
Political observers say that by this move, Amarinder has also tried to signal that in Punjab he is the captain and none else.
Animal husbandry minister Balbir Singh Sidhu was elevated and given the portfolio of health and family welfare, while Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was earlier local government minister, was demoted and given the departments of power and new and renewable energy sources.
Another Cabinet minister, Vijay Inder Singla, who was earlier public works minister, has been given the department of school education despite the fact that Congress candidate Kewal Dhillon lost in Sangrur, from where Singla is the MLA, as Bhagwant Mann of Aam Aadmi Party retained his seat.
Dhillon is a close confidant of Amarinder. This has not gone down well with some senior party leaders, said sources.
In the Assembly segments of Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Industries and Commerce Minister Sham Surinder Arora, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, and Transport Minister Aruna Chaudhary, the Congress candidates trailed, as the ministers were unable to secure a lead for the candidates.
Only the transport department was taken away from Chaudhary as she has been given the departments of social security, women and child development. Sodhi has been given additional charge of NRI affairs, which was earlier with the chief minister.
The departments of Badal and Arora have not been changed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a party leader asked why Amarinder had given the statement about dropping ministers if the ministers were to be elevated.