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BJP to announce five Punjab ministers

Last Updated: Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 11:12

Chandigarh: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was on Saturday expected to finalise five names for the Punjab cabinet after seven of its leaders, including five ministers, resigned in the wake of corruption charges.

Three central BJP leaders are arriving here for a meeting with party legislators Saturday evening to decide on the names of new ministers to be inducted in the Akali Dal-BJP alliance Punjab government.

"The swearing-in of the new ministers is to be held at Punjab Raj Bhavan Sunday morning," an official spokesman of the Punjab government said.

Five ministers and two chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS), all belonging to the BJP, resigned Friday evening as their name figured in a Rs 1.5 crore land bribery case earlier this month.

The resignations of the ministers were promptly forwarded by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to Governor Shivraj Patil for acceptance.

The five ministers who put in their papers are -- Manoranjan Kalia (industries and local government), Laxmi Kanta Chawla (health), Tikshan Sud (Forests), Mohan Lal (Transport) and Swarna Ram (social welfare).

BJP sources say that out of the five ministers who resigned, only two are likely to make it back to their ministerial berths. At least three new ministers are likely to be selected.

CPS Raj Khurana, who is a BJP legislator from Rajpura, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) May 5 along with an ex-government employee Devinder Singh Bittu.

During raids at Khurana`s official residence, Rs 15 lakh in cash, cheques worth Rs 1.5 crore and an expensive Porsche car were recovered.

CBI alleged that BJP leaders had demanded bribes from an association of mechanics to close a file of a prime piece of land near Chandigarh.

The bribery scandal also led to the CBI summoning two ministers -- Manoranjan Kalia and Swarna Ram, to its office. Audio and video recordings with the CBI investigators had pointed to the role of these two ministers in the bribery scandal.

However, both ministers have vehemently denied their role in the scandal.

The team of national leaders that will arrive here includes Shanta Kumar, national senior vice president and in-charge of Punjab, and national general secretary and BJP spokesman Jagat Parkash Nadda.

The BJP has 19 legislators in the 117-member Assembly.


First Published: Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 11:12

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