Hours after the first State Cabinet meeting following the Lok Sabha elections, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday evening rejigged the portfolios of most of the ministers, to make some vital changes in the key ministries.
Barring four ministers, there are some changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocations, which the Chief Minister said would help further streamline the government systems and processes, and bring more transparency and efficacy into the various departments. With the Congress government in the state nearing the mid-term mark, Captain Amarinder hoped the exercise would also reenergise his team and bring a freshness into the working of the major departments.
The Chief Minister, who had hinted at changes in the portfolios of his Council of Ministers after the completion of the poll process, has allocated the crucial Local Government to his senior-most colleague, Brahm Mohindra, who was earlier handling Health & Family Welfare, which has now been entrusted to Balbir Sidhu.
Local Government was earlier with Navjot Singh Sidhu, who now gets Power and New & Renewable Energy Sources. His other previous portfolios of Tourism and Cultural Affairs goes to Charanjit Singh Channi, who retains Technical Education, Industrial Training & Employment General, with his Science and Technology portfolio taken over by the Chief Minister.
Balbir Sidhu’s portfolio of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy has been entrusted, under the new scheme of things, to Tript Bajwa, along with Higher Education. Bajwa also retains Rural Development and Panchayats. That is correct. Bajwa has been given Higher Education and Animal Husbandry because the government intends to give greater priority to these sectors.
However, Bajwa has been divested of Housing and Urban Development, which the Chief Minister has handed over to Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, in place of Revenue, which goes to Gurpreet Singh Kangar, who is also handling Rehabilitation & Disaster Management.
Manpreet Singh Badal continues to take care of Finance, Planning and Programme Implementation but the Chief Minister has decided to take Governance Reforms into his own fold. School Education has been shifted from Om Prakash Soni to Vijay Inder Singla, who retains Public Works but hands over Information Technology to Captain Amarinder.
Soni will now take care of Medical Education & Research, Freedom Fighters and Food Processing departments.
In addition to Sports & Youth Affairs, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi will now also be in charge of NRI Affairs, which was under the Chief Minister’s purview earlier. Transport has been moved from Aruna Chowdhary’s basket and handed over to Razia Sultan, who retains Water Supply but has been divested of Higher Education. Aruna Chowdhary takes over the Social Security, Women & Child Development departments.
The four ministers in whose portfolios no changes have been made are Sadhu Singh Dharamsot (Forests, Printing & Stationery, SC/BC Welfare), Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa (Cooperation, Jails), Sunder Sham Arora (Industries & Commerce), and Bharat Bhushan Ashu (Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs).