Chandigarh, March 13
Ahead of the swearing-in of the new government in Punjab, speculations are rife over the likely constitution of the Cabinet amidst reports of the top brass of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) giving a free hand to its Chief Minister-designate Bhagwant Mann to choose his ministerial colleagues.
Notably, Mann and Arvind Kejriwal are holding a roadshow in Amritsar on Sunday. According to the sources, the party high-command has given a free hand to Mann to decide his Cabinet colleagues.
Raghav Chadha, who was also present as an observer on behalf of the party in the legislature party meeting, said while speaking to the media said that it is the prerogative of the Chief Minister to decide on the faces of the Cabinet who would be sworn-in as Ministers.
“This is Bhagwant Mann government. He will decide who will take oath as Ministers,” Chadha said.
After the conclusion of the legislature party meeting on Friday, ANI reached out to ministerial probable, but they refused to divulge details.
According to the sources, Mann would rest his faith in MLAs who stood with the party during tough times.
The sitting MLAs who were re-elected as MLAs are likely to find themselves in the Cabinet of Chief Minister-elect Mann, sources said.
Among the probable is Harpal Singh Cheema, who won a second consecutive term.
He was the leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly while being the face of the party in posters and hoardings during the election campaign. Before Mann was made the CM face, there used to be three faces on the posters of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab — Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann and Harpal Singh Cheema.
Cheema is most likely to become an important face of the Mann Cabinet. It is also being said that he may be rewarded with the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
Kultar Singh Sandhwan is also among the probable. He won from the Kotkapura constituency for the second term in a row. Kultar Singh is the big face of the AAP in Punjab and he is believed to be almost certain to be included in the Cabinet.
Aman Arora can also take an oath as a Minister, sources said, adding that he is also considered close to Mann.
Gurmeet Haher’s name is also included in the list of possible ministers, sources said, adding that he’s known as Meet Haher in Punjab.
The AAP’s youth wing president Gurmeet has become MLA from Barnala for the second time in a row.
Unlike Delhi where the Arvind Kejriwal-led Cabinet does not include a single woman minister, a strong representation of women can be seen in the Bhagwant Mann AAP government of Punjab, sources said, adding that the names doing the rounds include Baljinder Kaur and Jeevan Jyot Kaur, who defeated Congress state president Navjot Singh Sidhu and SAD leader Bikramjit Majithia respectively.
Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who became an MLA for the first time after defeating Akali candidate Anil Joshi from the Amritsar North seat, may also get an important position in the Mann cabinet, sources said.
Former IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh has been an investigator of the famous Bargari sacrilege case of Punjab.
There will be a total of 17 Ministers in the new government of Punjab, including Mann, sources said. However, only six or seven ministers will take the oath on March 16, it has been reliably learnt.