Naveen S Garewal, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 14. The Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has done a fine balancing act in representing Malwa, Majha and Doaba in his Cabinet based on the number of constituencies in each of these regions. With Majha having 25 seats and the Doaba 23, eight ministers are from these two regions. The Malwa belt with 69 assembly segments post-delimitation is represented by 10 ministers, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister.
The Cabinet represents all the three regions of Punjab ae well as communities.The message at today’s swearing-in was clear — that the government wants to give a lot of importance to the Dalits. Bhagat Chunni Lal, a Dalit face in the Cabinet, is number three in the Badal government.
In 2007, Dalit leader Swaran Singh Phillaur’s name was dropped from the list of ministers at the last minute. This time he is ranked number 4 in the Cabinet. Gulzar Singh Ranike also represents a reserved segment (Attari).
Political compulsions have forced the Chief Minister to induct Jagir Kaur (the only women) into the Cabinet even while she is facing trial in a murder case. However, she has been pushed down to the number 12 position.
Others like Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, a former MP from Ludhiana, has got a place in the Cabinet because of three reasons — his proximity to Sukhbir Badal, because there is no other claimant from Ludhiana district and last because he was denied the ticket for the parliamentary poll in 2009 on the promise that he would be allotted the party ticket for the assembly elections and made minister if he won.
S S Rakhra is a two-time MLA who defeated Raninder Singh in Samana. The SAD has no other leader in Patiala whose stature matches that of Rakhra.
Rakhra will help the SAD consolidate the party position in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Bikram Majithia has earned his position in the Cabinet by leading the youth wing to a successful innings. Out of the 14 Akali youth wing candidates in the poll, 11 were victorious. Majithia was a minister in the last government but had to resign to pave the way for induction of Sukhbir Badal into the Cabinet. Tota Singh, a former minister, represents the core Malwa region. He is close to the Chief Minister. Sikandar Singh Maluka is close to Sukhbir. He played a key role in holding the Kabaddi World Cup.
Though the portfolios are yet to be announced, sources say the BJP has told Chief Minister Badal that it wants Bhagat Chunni Lal to be given Health and Local Government, Anil Joshi Techinical Education and Industries, MM Mittal Forests and Labour and Surjit Kumar Jyani Social Welfare.