Hours after Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi met Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Saturday with a list of the names of the ministers of his new cabinet, sources said last-minute deliberation within the Congress has thrown up a fresh challenge.
The Chief Minister attended another round of meet with Rahul Gandhi, party insiders say, over a video conference last night to finalise the names ahead of the oath of the new cabinet at 4:30 pm today.
He has already met Mr Gandhi thrice in Delhi since he took oath on Monday.
The state government is likely to induct seven new faces in the cabinet, including MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh who was sacked from former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s cabinet over allegations of corruption.
The AAP and the Akali Dal had criticised the party for retaining ministers with controversial tenure.
The Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema have in the past also accused Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Rana Gurjit Singh of corruption and there were reports that both would be made ministers in the new government.
Sources on Saturday said the cabinet would see seven new entrants, and 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.
Some of the loyalists of Captain – Brahm Mohindra, Vijendra Singla and Bharat Bhushan Ashu – were said to 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, as per sources.
The Chief Minister met Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Saturday afternoon.
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. 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.