Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had finalised the names for his cabinet, sources said on Saturday afternoon, after several rounds of discussion with Rahul Gandhi. However, last-minute deliberation reportedly forced the party to go over the list again before the oath.
Mr Channi, who took over as the Chief Minister on Monday, had visited Delhi thrice since his oath to discuss the cabinet overhaul, reports said. Fifteen ministers in the new cabinet are likely to take oath on Sunday. He met Mr Gandhi virtually on Saturday night.
The cabinet will see seven new entrants, say sources, adding that five ministers from the Amarinder Singh cabinet are likely to be dropped. While some of his loyalists stay, some are likely to be shown the door.
Raj Kumar Verka, Kuljit Nagra, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Pargat Singh, Raja Warring, Rana Gurjeet, and Surjit Singh Dhiman are the new entrants, as per sources.
However, some of the loyalists of Captain - Brahm Mohindra, Vijendra Singla and Bharat Bhushan Ashu - have been retained.
Health Minister Balbir Sidhu, Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Sports Minister Rana, and three other ministers - Gurmeet Sodhi, SS Arora, Gurpreet Kangar - are likely to be replaced.
The Chief Minister met Governor Banwarilal Purohit this afternoon, presumably to share the names.
After the meeting, the Chief Minister tweeted:
I will meet Ministers, MLAs and other political office bearers at my office every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and a Cabinet meeting will be held every Tuesday at 3:00 pm. I've also directed all the officers not to leave the office till the cabinet is going on. pic.twitter.com/eKQyNL5QgF— Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) September 25, 2021
Last week, the turmoil in Punjab - that had been brewing for several months - peaked when Amarinder Singh stepped down as the Chief Minister amid clashes with his critic Navjot Singh Sidhu ahead of the state elections due next year.
After back-to-back meetings to iron out differences, Mr Channi was picked the next day as the state's first Dalit Sikh face to lead Punjab.
"I am the aam aadmi, sitting here while other parties keep talking about aam aadmi. This is the aam aadmi sarkar. It has to take many decisions for Punjab," Mr Channi, who is close to Navjot Singh Sidhu, declared Monday after taking oath, setting the tone for the assembly elections.
Rahul Gandhi, who faced criticism as Punjab saw the leadership change, attended the oath ceremony.
Along with Mr Channi, his two deputies- Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni - were also sworn in. Both have been carefully chosen to tie up the Congress's poll math.