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Punjab: Cabinet expansion on cards

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been going steady to carry out his agenda in a time bound manner.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been going steady to carry out his agenda in a time bound manner. After making a clean sweep in the Rajya Sabha elections by claiming all seven seats available from Punjab, he, however, suffered a reverse in the Sangrur Lok Sabha bye-election. Putting behind this reverse, he has been trying to grab back the initiative. The first Budget of his government last week was an opportunity to build bridges with electors of Punjab. While keeping his pre-election commitment of free supply of 300 units of electricity a month, his government was under fire for keeping the promised monthly incentive of Rs 1000 to women out of the budgetary proposals.

After the Budget session, his immediate tasks include finding a new Director-General of Police besides restructuring his Council of Ministers.

The Chief Minister was apparently not happy with the way the police under the command of VK Bhawra handled the Sidhu Moose Wala assassination case. Deteriorating law and order was an issue that the Opposition parties used to bash the government during the electioneering for the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat. Apparently, the Chief Minister is desperate to restore the image and credibility of the force in uniform.

VK Bhawra has applied for leave prior to his proceeding on the central deputation. The AAP government has  to name one of the 1992 cadre IPS officers as a replacement for VK Bhawra. Though the name has to be ratified by the Union Public Service Commission, an interim arrangement will require a successor to the outgoing DGP be named.

The naming of the new DGP may be an administrative exercise, the Chief Minister has to be proactive on the political front also. Expectations of some of the senior legislators of being inducted in the Council of Ministers are running high.

Since the Chief Minister had removed the Health Minister Vijay Singla on corruption charges, no replacement was made. Immediately after the conclusion of the Budget session, the Chief Minister headed for the union capital to hold consultations with the AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Though CM Bhagwant Mann evaded a direct answer  when asked about Cabinet expansion, his body actions indicate that Cabinet restructuring is not far off.

Speculations are that he may induct five to six new ministers. Among the names doing rounds include those of Aman Arora, Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and Inderbir Singh Nijjar.

 

Prabhjot Singh