Punjab cabinet reshuffle on cards, to focus on restoring ‘caste balance’
The possible Cabinet reshuffle could see a Dalit or OBC face being inducted and a minister from Malwa or Majha being dropped.Author : Avneet Kaur
After Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on July 6 met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, speculation of a possible Cabinet reshuffle to accommodate all sections, have re-emerged. Sources say before Punjab goes for elections early next year, the party high command has been seeking ‘restoration of the regional and caste balance’ in the Cabinet.
As Punjab is having over 33 per cent Dalit population, and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had already announced its alliance with Mayawati’s party, therefore discussions are on in Congress to give more representation to leaders from the SC community in the Cabinet and also if more tickets should be given to such leaders in the upcoming elections.
There are 18 Cabinet berths in all. The slot vacated by Amristar MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu is still vacant. Thus, the possible Cabinet reshuffle could see a Dalit or OBC face being inducted and a minister from Malwa or Majha being dropped.
A senior congress leader when asked whether cabinet rejig would favour congress or not, on condition of anonymity, he replied that the reshuffle would only be significant if the disgruntled leader Navjot Sidhu is given a prominent role in the party or the government.
He also said its high time Congress needs to work on the ground as damage has already been done. “The congress has yet not delivered its major poll promises be it jobs, sacrilege issue or ending drug mafia”, he added.
Moreover, the High Command has already cleared that the upcoming assembly elections in the state will be contested under the patronage of Capt Amarinder Singh as majority of the Congress leaders including MPs and MLAs of the state unit are in his favor.
Thus, within a week or two, a significant announcement can be made by Punjab CM beginning from the implementation of the 18 points peace broker formula to the Cabinet rejig.
Sources further suggested that Capt Amarinder is keen on having a non-Sikh face as the state Congress president but the party high command could seek more changes while giving Sidhu an important role.
Notably, Punjab CM Capt Amarinder after meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had also met Election Strategist Prashant Kishor to give a final shape to the truce formula to end the longstanding feud in the party.
Besides, Prashant Kishor will make the ground visits to assess the issues faced by the public so an aggressive campaign could be established for the party. It has also been asserted by the sources that Mr Kishor’s team will deliberate over the tickets’ give-away to the deserving leaders so people’s grievances could be timely addressed.