Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is all set to induct five members to his Council of Ministers on Monday. Though the new ministers to be administered oath of secrecy have been informed individually, no formal announcement of the names of new ministers has been made.
Sources in the ruling party have confirmed that of five new ministers, there will be a woman, and after expansion, the strength of the Punjab Council of Ministers will go up to 15 leaving scope for the addition of three more ministers. Under the provisions, the State can have 18 ministers.
At present the Council of Ministers led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has 10 members. The eleventh member of the initial Cabinet, Dr Vijay Singla, was dismissed on corruption charges.
Insiders say that five new Ministers to be sworn on Monday evening in the first expansion of the AAP Government in the State will include Fauja Singh Sarari (Guru Har Sahai), Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar (Amritsar South) and Anmol Gagan Maan (Kharar), Chetan Singh Jouramajra (Samana) and Aman Arora (Sunam).
Though there were speculations that Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, second time MLA from Jagraon, will also be included in the Bhagwant Mann cabinet but the choice for the woman candidate fell on first timer Anmol Gagan Mann (Kharar).
The Chief Minister had reportedly got the names cleared from the AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during his recent visit to the union capital. After a landslide win in the last Assembly elections where it won 92 seats, the Chief Minister had a tough time in constituting his Council of ministers.
Understandably he was under pressure from different regions, different communities as well as Dalit lobby. Besides, giving women adequate representation was another challenge before the Chief Minister. Sources also mentioned another influential lobby comprising second time MLAs as it wanted representation on the basis of seniority. Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and Aman Arora are prominent members of this lobby. While Aman Arora, who won the last assembly elections with a record margin has got the green signal for his induction in the Council of ministers, Jagraon MLA may have to wait till next extension.
There was also lobbying for the induction of Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh in the Council of Ministers. Arguments given in his favour were not only the growing criticism of the government on the law and order front but also the release of the SIT Report on Sacrileges to a select group of Sikh leaders. The State would need a good administrator for follow up on the SIT report as the subject matter was both sensitive and contagious.
While expanding his Council of Ministers, Chief Minister has overlooked the claims of party MLAs from the Doab region as four of five being inducted in the first expansion are from the Malwa and one from the Majha.
Sarari, a former cop, is being inducted into the Council of Ministers as he belongs to the Rai Sikh community. He also represents the border belt.
Anmol, a folk singer, has been rewarded for her loyalty to the AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal . As a hardcore youth volunteer of the party, she gave her voice to the “Kejriwal anthem”. Dr Nijjar, president of Chief Khalsa Diwan, who performed the duties the Pro Tam Speaker at the first session of the newly constituted Vidhan Sabha, also looked certain for a ministerial berth.
Aman Arora is a second-term MLA and had won the Assembly election with the highest margin of 75,000 votes. In fact, all expected him to be an automatic choice when the first batch was sworn in. Jouramajra has been chosen to give representation to Patiala district.