Badal pleases all, more CPSs than ministers in state

21 MLAs to be sworn as chief parliamentary secretaries on April 10

Call it appeasement or plain coalition politics, the fact remains that Punjab soon would have more Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) than there are ministers in Parkash Singh Badal's cabinet.

The chief minister has decided to raise the strength of CPSs in his present term to 21 from the 15 in the previous SAD-BJP government. This is three more than 18 ministers, including Badal, in the Punjab cabinet.

To be be sworn in by Badal on April 10 at Punjab Bhawan, the list would see 15 new faces. While 17 MLAs from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will figure in the list, the remaining four will be from BJP. Badal has done a little bit of social engineering in choosing the CPSs as the list features four Hindu and four Dalits CPSs. Three women would also be sworn in.

Among the first time SAD legislators who will join as CPS are Parkash Chand Garg (Sangrur), Sarup Singla (Bathinda), N K Sharma (Derabassi), Nisara Khatoon, who is wife of former DGP Izhar Alam, (Malerkotla) and Pawan Kumar Teenu ( Adampur). Sharma was chairman of SAS Nagar Planning Board.

Besides, SAD's Balbir Singh Ghunnas (Dirba), Mantar Singh Brar (Faridkot), Gurbachan Singh Babehali (Gurdaspur), who is presently the chairman of Milkfed, and Virsa Singh Valtoha (Khemkaran) who had remained MLAs in the previous Akali government as well will become the CPS for the first time.

From the BJP's first timers, Som Parkash (Phagwara) and Navjot Kaur, wife of cricketer-turned politician BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar east) have been favoured by Badal. Interestingly Navjot Kaur is yet to take oath as MLA of the Punjab Assembly. Sources said that her husband had lobbying for Kaur to be inducted as a minister in the Badal Cabinet. However, as of now she will have to remain satisfied with the post of CPS.

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