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Eight fresh faces as ten ministers of new AAP govt take oath in Punjab

The AAP has tried to give a balanced cabinet and tried to represent all the three regions of the state.

Published: 19th March 2022 03:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2022 03:52 PM   |  A+A-

Dr Baljit Kaur takes oath as minister on Saturday. Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ten newly inducted cabinet ministers.

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: Two days after Bhagwant Singh Mann took charge as Punjab Chief Minister, his ten-member ministerial team was sworn-in on Saturday in which there are eight first-time MLAs and only two-second time legislators ignoring all giant-killers and most of the second-timers.

The Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ten newly inducted cabinet ministers in the presence of Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann here at Punjab Raj Bhawan. Interestingly Delhi Chief Minister and National Convenor of AAP Arvind Kejriwal and other senior party leaders from Delhi were not present at this function. However, leaders of the state unit were present.

Sources said that it was after a series of discussions between CM Mann and top party leadership that the names of the cabinet ministers were finalised. As there was intense lobbying from some of the party MLAs, including a second-time woman MLA and a first-time MLA from Majha but Mann is believed to be keen on a lean cabinet initially and prevailed upon the party high command in choosing his team.

There are 18 berths in the cabinet, including that of Chief Minister Mann and now 11 filled, still, seven are yet to be filled.

In the ten-member cabinet of  Mann except for the former leader of opposition 48-year old Harpal Singh Cheema who is a second time MLA from Dirba he is considered close to Chief Minister Mann besides was known to raise public issues and lawyer and the young 32-year old Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, who won a second term from Barnala a mechanical engineer, the rest eight ministers are first-time MLAs.

The AAP has tried to give a balanced cabinet and tried to represent all the three regions of the state as five ministers are from the Malwa region of the state as the party won 66 seats out of 69 seats in the region besides Cheema and Hayer, Dr Vijay Singla a dentist by profession who defeated Congress candidate and popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala from Mansa as none of the other giant killers, who defeated big guns of other political parties have found a place in Mann’s cabinet.

While the lone woman minister, 46-year old Dr Baljit Kaur from Malout is the daughter of former AAP Member of Parliament from Faridkot Prof Sadhu Singh. She had resigned from the government service last year as she was an eye specialist to take a political plunge and another youngster 31-year old Harjot Singh Bains from Anandpur Sahib a founder member of Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab who is a lawyer by profession and completed his education from London School of Economics and was involved in the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare.

While four ministers from Majha region as the party won 16 out of the 25 seats in this region they are 52-year old Lal Chand Kataruchak from Bhoa was earlier active with the CPM and has been fighting against illegal mining, Harbhajan Singh from Jandiala a retired Excise and Taxation Officer from the Punjab Government, took voluntary retirement and had unsuccessfully contested the 2017 polls on an AAP ticket but this time he won, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal from Ajnala is a matriculate and farmer by profession. Earlier he was in the US before coming back to India in 2014. He contested the Lok Sabha in 2019 on an AAP ticket from Khadoor Sahib and lost. He later became district president of AAP and the 41-year old Laljit Singh Bhullar from Patti is a farmer and a commission agent. He was active in SAD for many years but left the party after sacrilege incidents but joined back SAD in 2018 but left the party to join AAP in 2019.

The lone minister from the Doaba region from where the party got ten seats out of 23 seats in that region is 57-year old Brahm Shankar Jimpa from Hoshiarpur who is Class XII passes out. Earlier he was vice-chairman of Punjab Industry Development Board and had remained in the municipal committee of Hoshiarpur. He was with the Congress but was denied the ticket by the grand old party in municipal election thus contested an independent and won the fourth time in a row.

Besides the region the caste questions have also been kept in mind while four ministers Cheema, Kaur, Chand and Singh are from the reserved category and Hayer, Bains, Dhaliwal and Bhullar are four Jat Sikhs ministers. As CM Mann is also a Jat Sikh thus five from the community and  Singla and Jimpa are two hindu faces in the cabinet. The only women minister in the  cabinet is Kaur. Also, Cheema and Bains are lawyers,  Kaur and Singla are both doctors, Hayer is an engineer, Harbhajan is a retired government official, Dhaliwal and Bhullar are 
farmers and Jimpa a Class XII pass out.

The newly inducted senior-most minister Harpal Singh Cheema said that he was the servant of the public earlier and even now he is.`` The common people like us, who might have not even thought of becoming a minister have become ministers. We will fulfill all the promises.’’

Both young ministers, Hayer said that the people have voted for us because they were annoyed by a corrupt system in Punjab and now corruption will be uprooted. While Bains said that a Punjab Model will be developed as Kejriwal brought back the trust of youth in politics. Meanwhile, Dhaliwal said that his priority would be to work on education and health.

Congratulating the newly-inducted Ministers Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann tweeted, "We have to work together with full sincerity for the 3 crore people of Punjab and make Punjab golden again.’’

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor  Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "Many congratulations to all the new ministers of Punjab. The people of Punjab have high hopes for all of you. Work with full sincerity and hard work to take Punjab on the path of progress. God is with you."

Meanwhile, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, a second-time MLA from Kotkapura will be the speaker of the state assembly. he tweeted,`` Heartful thanks to my leader Shri @ArvindKejriwal ji and my  CM @BhagwantMann Ji for imposing faith in me by nominating me as Speaker of the historical 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha.’’



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