Captain Amarinder Singh and nine Cabinet ministers, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, were sworn-in today by Governor V P Singh Badnore.
The massive win by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress was on the back of an overwhelming number of Dalits voting for the party. Of the total vote share in the Punjab Assembly election, a whopping 32 per cent was constituted by Dalits.
In contrast to the Dalit vote share, only three Dalits have got cabinet berths--Charanjit Singh Channi, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Aruna Chaudhary.
A STUDY IN CONTRAST
Compare this to the number of Jat Sikhs who have made it to Amarinder Singh's cabinet. Jat Sikhs accounted for 28 per cent of the vote share in the Punjab election. Besides Amarinder Singh, who is a Jat Sikh, others from his community who have got Cabinet berths are cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Rana Gurjeet Singh.
In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the Cabinet size cannot exceed 18, including the chief minister. After today's swearing-in, eight more Cabinet ministers can be inducted, and it is widely believed that more Jat Sikhs will make the cut in the next round.
An MLA each from the Hindu and Muslim communities have been inducted--Brahm Mohindra and Razia Sultana have got Cabinet berths.
FEUDAL MINDSET, SAYS AAP
The Aam Aadmi Party, which had promised the deputy chief minister's post to a Dalit, accused the Congress government of a "feudal mindset".
"Captain Amarinder Singh's feudal mindset is visible in the first Cabinet expansion. Except Charanjit Singh Channi, none of other Dalit MLAs have been given big departments," said AAP's chief whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Channi has got the charge of education, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot has got social justice portfolio while Aruna Chaudhary is a minister of state.
CAPTAIN's LOW-KEY CEREMONY
Amarinder Singh had made it clear that the swearing-in ceremony will be simple and low-key, without any frills or wasteful expenditure. This, the new Punjab chief minister, said was a step towards saving money when the state was facing a financial crisis.
The austere ceremony, however, did not stop the top leaders in the Congress to travel from Delhi for Amarinder Singh's swearing-in. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh were among a galaxy of leaders who attended the event.
Among those present was Leader of Opposition H S Phoolka, who could not get a seat. The AAP hit out at the Congress government for ignoring its MLAs who were invited to the ceremony.