The new ministers in the Punjab cabinet took over their departments today as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh exuded optimism that they would perform well, with the “best” having been selected for the job.
Reacting to claims that the Dalit and Other Backward Class community had not been given adequate representation in the cabinet expansion last week, he said not all the 77 ruling party MLAs can be made ministers.
But as already promised by him, those left out will be suitably accommodated, he told reporters. Three Congress MLAs had resigned from their posts in the state unit of the party before the swearing in of the nine new ministers on Saturday, complaining that they too deserved a berth in the Amarinder Singh cabinet.
When told that some of the new ministers did not have the qualifications to head their departments, the Chief Minister said they all had qualified and experienced staff to help them.
A defence minister is not an Army General, he said at the interaction with media persons after the installation of the new ministers in their offices at the Punjab Secretariat.
Efficiency is bound to improve with the expansion of the cabinet, he said.
Already there was a marked improvement in the state’s overall situation, he said.
Even the financial situation had improved slightly, he said, claiming that pensions had been disbursed regularly under the social security schemes for the past four months.
Earlier, the Chief Minister moved from floor to floor in the Punjab Secretariat, starting from the seventh, to see his new ministerial colleagues settle down in their jobs.
On the seventh floor, a `paath’ of Sri Sukhmani Sahib ji marked the installation of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Labour Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu.
The Chief Minister was also greeted enthusiastically in the offices of Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on the same floor.
Flanked by senior party functionaries, he also escorted Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi to his chair in his sixth floor office, before moving down to the fifth floor to visit PWD and IT Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, and Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora.
Enthusiastic workers were present at every floor to welcome the Chief minister, who completed the installation process in the offices of Education and Environment Minister O P Soni and Cooperation and Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
He also visited the office of Higher Education Minister Razia Sultana, who was elevated to the Cabinet minister’s rank in the recent expansion. PTI