CHANDIGARH: Two days after Bhagwant Singh Mann took charge as Punjab Chief Minister, his 10-member ministerial team was sworn in. There are eight first-time MLAs and two second-time legislators. All giant-killers and most of the second-timers were overlooked.
There are two doctors — Baljit Kaur and Vijay Singla — in the cabinet, which also has a mechanical engineer in Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 10 in the presence of Chief Minister Mann at Punjab Raj Bhawan. None of ministers are from big cities like Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Bathinda. Delhi Chief Minister and national convenor of AAP, Arvind Kejriwal and other senior party leaders from Delhi were not present.
According to sources, after a series of discussions between Mann and the party leadership, names of the ministers were finalised. There are 18 berths in the cabinet, including that of the Chief Minister. Seven are yet to be filled.
There was intense lobbying from some of the MLAs, including a second-time woman MLA and a first-time MLA from the Majha region but Mann is believed to be keen on a lean cabinet initially. When a few senior MLAs were about their omission, they tried to play it down saying that they abide by the party’s decision.
The AAP has tried to form a balanced cabinet, with representation from all three regions of the state. Five ministers are from Malwa region, where the party won 66 of 69 seats. Four are from Majha region where AAP contested 25 seats and won 16. Only one is from Doaba region. where the party won 10 of 23.
Other than region, caste questions were also considered. Four ministers — Harpal Singh Cheema, Kaur, Lal Chand Kataruchak, Harbhajan Singh — are from reserved categories. Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, Harjot Singh Bains, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Laljit Singh Bhullar are Jat Sikhs. CM Mann is also a Jat Sikh, which makes it five from the community in the cabinet. Vijay Singla and Brahm Shankar Jimpa are the Hindu faces. The only woman minister is Kaur.
New advocate general named
The AAP government on Saturday appointed senior advocate Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu as the Advocate General of Punjab. Sidhu has been Additional Solicitor General of India