Captain handpicks cabinet in Punjab; Sidhu takes oath as Min

SansadTV Bureau
Patiala: Congress workers celebrate with a poster of PPCC President Capt. Amarinder Singh the party's thumping victory in the State Assembly polls outside his residence in Patiala on Saturday. PTI Photo

Patiala: Congress workers celebrate with a poster of PPCC President Capt. Amarinder Singh the party’s thumping victory in the State Assembly polls outside his residence in Patiala on Saturday. PTI Photo

Amid the battery of Congress leaders, Captain Amarinder Singh took oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab. This is second stint of the old warhorse, who steered his party to a splendid victory in the crucial state. In what is a seeming departure from the Congress party’s known ‘high command’ tradition, there are reports that Captain had a full say in handpicking his cabinet.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, the estranged nephew of Akali patriarch and outgoing CM Prakash Singh Badal and senior-most MLA of Congress party Braham Mohindra were among the prominent members of his cabinet who took oath.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had the launched Congress party’s manifesto for Punjab polls, and Rahul Gandhi attended the ceremony.

AICC general secretaries Ahmed Patel and Ambika Soni, besides secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari, who is also credited for the grand comeback of Congress in the state also attend the event.

File photo of AICC secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari. Photo - PTI

File photo of AICC secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari.
Photo – PTI

“Besides Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will attend the swearing-in,” a Congress release said here.

Former Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Ashwani Kumar, Rajeev Shukla, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh were also present.

Tasting its first success after series of debacles post the 2014 General Elections, 75-year-old Captain delivered Congress party a victory with near 2/3rd majority in a tightly contested 3-cornered contest featuring Akali-BJP combine and new phenomena Aam Aadmi Party.

The ceremony was held at the Punjab Raj Bhavan at 10 am and the oath were administered by Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore.

Earlier, speaking to the press, Amarinder Singh said his government’s priority would be to bring the state’s economy, “which has been completely devastated under the SAD-BJP regime, back on the rails through every possible measure and innovative, out-of-the-box initiatives”.

“We do not want to celebrate when the people of Punjab are suffering due to severe financial and other problems,” he said, adding that there will be time enough to celebrate once his government has brought the state back on the path of growth and development.