CHANDIGARH, May 31:
The Bhagwant Mann Government in Punjab on Wednesday expanded its cabinet by inducting AAP MLAs Gurmeet Singh Khudian and Balkar Singh as ministers.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan here. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was also present.
While Khudian was allocated agriculture and farmers’ welfare, animal husbandry, fisheries, dairy development and food processing portfolios, Balkar got local government and parliamentary affairs portfolios.
Mann shared the details of the re-allocation of portfolios on his Twitter handle.
Earlier, agriculture and farmers’ welfare portfolio was with Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal. Dhaliwal, who is also holding NRI Affairs, has been given administrative reforms in the reshuffle of portfolios.
Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, who holds water resources, mines and geology, science, technology and environment, sports and youth services portfolios, has been given conservation of land and water department.
Laljit Singh Bhullar, who is holding the transport department, has been given rural development and panchayats which was earlier held by Dhaliwal.
Bhullar was also earlier holding animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy development and food processing, which has now been given to Khudian.
Inderbir Singh Nijjar, who on Tuesday resigned as minister, was earlier holding local government, parliamentary affairs, conservation of land and water and administrative reforms.
Khudian, 60, is legislator from Lambi seat in Muktsar. He was the party’s giant slayer who defeated five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from his home turf by a margin of 11,396 votes in the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls.
Khudian, the first-time MLA, had joined the AAP after quitting the Congress in 2021.
Balkar Singh, 60, is an MLA from Kartarpur reserved seat in Jalandhar. Singh, a former police officer, had joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2021 after he retired from the Punjab Police. Singh is also the first time legislator.
Kartarpur assembly seat falls in the Jalandhar Parliamentary constituency from where AAP candidate Sushil Rinku registered victory in the bypoll this month. Rinku had secured maximum lead from the Kartarpur assembly segment out of total nine assembly segments in the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency.
Chief Minister Mann on Tuesday had sent Nijjar’s resignation to the governor for acceptance.
Nijjar’s resignation came after his reported statement seeking to back Barjinder Singh Hamdard, the editor-in-chief of Punjabi newspaper Ajit. Hamdard is under the vigilance bureau scanner over the alleged misuse of funds in the execution of Rs 315 crore Jang-E-Azadi memorial in Jalandhar.
With the induction of two new ministers and resignation of Nijjar, the strength of the cabinet is 16. There are a total of 18 berths in the cabinet.
It is the third cabinet expansion of the 14-month old Mann-led government in Punjab.
In July 2022, the Bhagwant Mann Government had carried out its first cabinet expansion, inducting five party legislators.
In January this year, senior AAP leader and Patiala Rural MLA Dr Balbir Singh was sworn-in as Cabinet Minister, after Fauja Singh Sarari tendered his resignation.
Later talking to reporters, both Balkar Singh and Khudian thanked Mann and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal for their induction as ministers. (PTI)
CHANDIGARH, May 31: