CHANDIGARH: The heartburn over the latest Punjab cabinet expansion continues to simmer with ignored and superseded MLAs sounding a warning that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should not forget how in 2004 some disgruntled legislators had plotted to oust him. Some senior Dalit MLAs have taken their complaints to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, and alleged that denying them cabinet slots reeked of discrimination.
When the nine new ministers took charge earlier this week, about a dozen MLAs expressed resentment, saying seniority had been over looked. They said if Amarinder did not listen to his party’s elected representatives, the issue would soon snowball within the party and the government.The MLAs made it clear that they would not tolerate such “high-handedness”. They said it was not acceptable that people who joined the Congress a few years ago were now ministers.
“During the 2002-2007 Amarinder Singh regime, MLAs’ grievances were not attended to by the CM. The same atmosphere is being created again. In the last 13 months of this government, no respect has been given to ruling party MLAs. And now, senior legislators have been ignored in the cabinet expansion,” a senior MLA said.On Wednesday, a three-member delegation led by technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi met Rahul. Vidha Sabha Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Tanda Urmar MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian were also in the delegation.
Sources said at the hour-long meeting, the leaders highlighted several issues of alleged discrimination against Dalits and backward classes and sought redress of their grievances. Overlooking their interests during the recent cabinet expansion was one of them.The delegation demanded that at least one-third of such posts should be given to these sections.
Amarinder has been claiming that there was no partiality in selection of ministers. He said MLAs who didn’t make it to the Cabinet would be appointed chairpersons of boards and corporations.Three MLAs have openly shown their resentment and resigned from all party posts. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said the party was reaching out to all MLAs who were upset. “We have the confidence to carry everybody along and will adjust them in positions in the party and government,” he said.