CHANDIGARH: Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi in his first portfolio allocation on Tuesday kept 14 departments with him — including the key responsibilities of vigilance, power and mining.
The allocation, which Congress sources said was vetted by Rahul Gandhi, saw the seven new faces in the reconstituted cabinet being given charge of key departments.
Amid persistent demands by party MLAs and AAP to cancel the allegedly one-sided power-purchase agreements signed by the erstwhile SAD-BJP government, Channi’s decision to oversee the power department himself is being seen as a decisive move. On the other hand, the mining and geology department is also riddled with allegations of the Congress government giving a free hand to the mining mafia in the last four-and-a-half years.
Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa got the home portfolio in the wake of his stringent criticism of former CM Amarinder Singh (who had managed the department before him) for his handling of the sacrilege cases and the October 2015 police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan. Besides home, Randhawa retained charge of the cooperation and prisons departments.
Om Parkash Soni, the other deputy CM, will oversee the health and family welfare department apart from welfare of defence services and freedom fighters.
Among the new inductees, Randeep Singh Nabha, who was dramatically included in the shortlist hours before the swearing-in on Sunday, got agriculture, farmers’ welfare and food processing.
Manpreet Singh Badal, who is considered close to Channi, retained finance, planning and programme implementation.
Most of the eight ministers of the Amarinder cabinet, other than the CM and his deputies, will continue to manage their old departments.