CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has created a ‘super-cabinet’ of advisors, which is even bigger than his cabinet. He has already made 15 political appointments in the Chief Minister Office and some more are expected to follow. Amarinder Singh has also gone past predecessor Parkash Singh Badal, who had nine political appointees in his office and had faced flak over it.
His ministry has only seven cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.
Amarinder Singh’s CMO team includes former bureaucrat Suresh Kumar, who has been appointed Chief Principal Secretary. Kumar, who retired last year as Additional Chief Secretary from the Punjab Government, had served as Principal Secretary to Amarinder when he was CM from 2002 to 2007. Considered close to Amarinder, he will enjoy the rank of Cabinet Secretary in the Union Government.
Another key CMO team member is Tejveer Singh, a 1994 IAS officer, who will be the CM’s Principal Secretary and second in command.
Tejveer had served as Deputy Commissioner of Patiala for almost five years when Amarinder was the CM earlier.
Amarinder has picked up one of the key people from Parkash Singh Badal’s team as Special Principal Secretary.
Gurkirat Kirpal Singh had earlier served as Managing Director of Markfed in the SAD-BJP Government and also was with the CM’s office briefly.
While three of Amarinder’s advisers enjoy the ranks of ministers, Lt Gen TS Shergill (Retd), a very old trusted friend who has co-authored a book with Amarinder, has been appointed as Chief Adviser in the rank of cabinet minister.
The other appointees include BIS Chahal and Raveen Thukral as advisers in the rank of minister of state. Chahal had earlier served as media adviser to Amarinder in his earlier tenure. A seasoned journalist, Thukhral has been Amarinder’s media strategist during the election campaign. The CM’s new press secretary is Vimal Sumbly while Major Amardeep Singh, Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu and Karanpal Sekhon have become political secretaries.
Others in the team include former police officer Khubi Ram as security adviser in the rank of Additional Director General of Police, Gurvinder Singh Sodhi, Gurpreet Singh Sonu Dhesi, Jagdeep Singh Sidhu, Sandeep Singh Brar, Damanjeet Singh Mohi and Ankit Bansal as officers on special duty. Amrit Kaur Gill comes as the only lady officer in the CM’s office.
The new CM has also appointed MP Singh, who was OSD to Preneet Kaur, wife of Amarinder when she was Minister of State for External Affairs. Also, two former chief secretaries of the state have been rehabilitated: Jai Singh Gill as chairman of the Sixth Pay Commission and KR Lakhanpal as the head of Expenditure Reforms Commission.