Oath Taken, Navjot Singh Sidhu Touches Captain Amarinder Singh's feet: 10 Points

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Oath Taken, Navjot Singh Sidhu Touches Captain Amarinder Singh's feet: 10 Points

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Navjot Singh Sidhu was earlier expected to be deputy to Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab.

Chandigarh:  After 10 years, Punjab has a Congress government. Captain Amarinder Singh, 75, took oath as Chief Minister this morning. Third on the list of nine ministers who was sworn in was Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-politician who quit the BJP last year. The positioning is seen to suggest that Mr Sidhu is unlikely to be Deputy Chief Minister, a post he has been keen on. Punjab was the Congress' consolation prize in the recent assembly elections; the BJP is forming government in all the four others, including Uttar Pradesh.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
  1. On stage, Mr Sidhu, 53, touched Captain Singh's feet, a show of respect.  Mr Sidhu, a prize catch for the Congress, has not been shy about suggesting he expects handsome compensation for his role.  His action on stage today is meant to signal that personal ambition will place second to party solidarity.
  2. Soon after the oath ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Congratulations @capt_amarinder on taking oath as CM. Wishing you the very best in working for Punjab's development.
  3. Top Congress leaders including Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were at the venue.
  4. On a list of ministers given to the Punjab Governor for the oath ceremony, the party's senior-most legislator Brahm Mohindra found first place, Mr Sidhu in second. Four-time lawmaker Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, and the state's richest legislator Rana Gurjit Singh will also be ministers.The leader of the Congress legislature party Charanjit Singh Channi and Nabha legislator Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, both Dalit leaders, also took oath.
  5. Captain's cabinet team also includes Manpreet Singh Badal, the estranged nephew of outgoing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Manpreet Badal was finance minister in the Badal government of the Akali Dal before he drifted away and launched the People's Party of Punjab, which later merged with the Congress.
  6. Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu - who underlined his hopes in the cabinet last week saying "No one can whistle a symphony" - has played safe. He called himself a "soldier of Rahul Gandhi's army" and spoke about sacrifice: "I will sacrifice myself for Punjab. I want to see Punjab prosper". Captain Amarinder had made it clear that Rahul Gandhi, and not he, would decide on Mr Sidhu's role.
  7. Any move to make Mr Sidhu Deputy Chief Minister would find disapproval from senior Congress leaders who resent the hype around the newcomer in the party.
  8. The Congress had said the swearing-in ceremony today will be a "low-key" affair, with the Captain underlining the financial crisis that he has inherited from the previous Akali Dal-BJP government. The Punjab government's debt exceeds Rs. 1.25 lakh crore, an average of Rs. 37,000 for every resident in the state.
  9. "We do not want to celebrate when the people of Punjab are suffering due to severe financial and other problems," Captain Amarinder, also the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, said, setting the tone for the political discourse in the state.
  10. The Congress won 77 of Punjab's 117 seats, with the Aam Aadmi Party winning 20 and the Akali Dal-BJP combine winning 15. This means that the Leader of Opposition will be from Arvind Kejriwal's AAP. The party's Dakha lawmaker Harvinder Singh Phoolka has been elected to the post.

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