CHANDIGARH: Nine new Cabinet ministers are set to take oath in Punjab on Saturday. Youth leader and former Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla, Mohali's three-time MLA Balbir Sidhu, former Amritsar mayor and five-time MLA OP Soni, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Shyam Sunder Arora, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and Gurpreet Singh Kangar are the ministers who will be taking oath on Saturday. The swearing-in ceremony will take place at Raj Bhawan at 6 pm in Chandigarh.
Randhawa is a three-time MLA from Dera Baba Nanak and Sodhi has represented Guru Har Sahai seat for four terms. Sarkaria is from Raja Sansi constituency in Amritsar and Kangar and represents Bathinda's Rampura Phool seat.
The oath ceremony comes after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi approved their names after the second round of meeting with state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday. Congratulating the ministers, Amarinder Singh on Friday tweeted: "Happy to announce the names of the new Cabinet Ministers... Congratulation to all!" In the first meeting with Singh, Rahul had reportedly asked the Punjab CM to provide the seniority list of the MLAs.
The expansion has been pending for a long time and many senior MLAs were eyeing a ministerial berth. At present, there are nine ministers, including Amarinder Singh, and with nine new ministers, the Punjab government will touch the maximum strength of 15 per cent of the state assembly.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, party's incharge for Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and co-incharge Harish Choudhary were also present at the meeting with Rahul Gandhi when the names were finalised. OP Soni, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sukhbinder Sarkaria are MLAs from the Majha region of the state, while Ashu, Vijay Inder Singla, Sodhi, Sidhu and Kangar belong to the politically important Malwa region. Arora is from Doaba region.
There was speculation earlier on the possible induction of Raj Kumar Verka, Kuljit Nagra, youth leader Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Surinder Davar and Rakesh Pandey.
Warring is the Indian Youth Congress president and Nagra is the All India Congress Committee secretary. Both are considered close to Rahul Gandhi. Pandey is among the most senior MLAs in Punjab.
Randhawa, Sodhi and Soni are considered close to the Chief Minister.
(With PTI inputs)