Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Monday allocated portfolios to his Cabinet colleagues, keeping 27 departments, including the Home, with himself while giving Finance to two-time MLA and former Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema.
The portfolio allocation comes two days after Mann inducted 10 ministers into his Cabinet, leaving seven berths vacant.
The Chief Minister has kept with him the departments of Administrative Reforms, Civil Aviation, General Administration, Personnel, Vigilance, Housing and Urban Development, Local Government, Industries and Commerce, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Horticulture, Conservation of Land and Water, Food processing , Investment Promotion, Science Technology and Environment, Parliamentary Affairs, Elections, Removal of Grievances, Freedom Fighters, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Employment Generation, Labor, Printing and Stationery, Defense Services Welfare, Governance reforms, New and Renewable Energy, Information and Public Relations.
Traditionally in Punjab, Home, Vigilance and Personnel departments used to remain with the CM. However, in a deviation from the past, Mann’s predecessor Charanjit Singh Channi had allocated Home to Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was also one of the two deputy chief ministers. Before that Home, Law and Justice was considered a single department. While giving Home to Randhawa, Channi divided the department into two and retained Law and Justice with himself. Mann has now kept Home but handed Law and Justice to Harjot Singh Bains.
Two-time MLA from Dirba Harpal Singh Cheema has been given the Finance, Planning, Program Implementation, Excise and Taxation, and Cooperation. The departments assume significance as the Aam Aadmi Party has come to power by promising, among others, to fill the near empty coffers.
Dr Baljit Kaur, the lone woman minister in the Cabinet, has been allocated Social Security, Women and Child Development and Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities.
Harbhajan Singh, who took premature retirement as excise and taxation officer, is the new PWD and Power minister. Harbhajan Singh has the unenviable task of fulfilling the party’s pre-poll promise of 300 units of free power to every household.
Dr Vijay Singla, a dentist-turned-politician, has been given the charge of the Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education and Research departments.
Lal Chand Kataruchak has been given the departments of Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Forests and Wildlife. The new government is already facing one of its first challenges as it would be conducting its first procurement of wheat crop in less than 10 days. Punjab witnesses biggest harvesting and procurement operations of wheat in Asia.
Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer has been handed the departments of Education, Sports and Youth Services and Higher Education.
Kuldip Singh Dhaliwal is the Rural Development & Panchayats minister. He will also hold the charge of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, and Dairy Development and NRI Affairs departments.
The key Transport department has been given to Laljit Singh Bhullar. He will also hold charge of Hospitality.
Brahm Shankar Jimpa is the Water Resources minister. He also hold the charge of departments of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management, Water Supply and Sanitation.
Harjot Bains, a Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer, has been given Legal and Legislative Affairs, Mines and Geology, Tourism and Cultural Affairs and Jails. All his departments are important considering that the state is fighting several important cases in various courts, while illegal sand mining was a poll issue.