- Five AAP MLAs were inducted as ministers in the Punjab government as CM Mann expanded cabinet
- It was the first cabinet expansion of the Mann-led government
- Arora was the first one to take oath, followed by Amritsar South MLA Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar
Five AAP MLAs were inducted as ministers in the Punjab government on Monday as Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann expanded his cabinet. It was the first cabinet expansion of the Mann-led government after AAP stormed to power in the state during the Assembly elections earlier this year.
Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the MLAs at Guru Nanak Dev Auditorium of Punjab Raj Bhawan here.
Arora was the first one to take oath, followed by Amritsar South MLA Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar.
Later, Fauja Singh Sarari, who represents Guru Har Sahai, Chetan Singh Jourmajra, MLA from Samana, and Kharar legislator Anmol Gagan Mann were administered oath as cabinet ministers.
Anmol Gagan Mann is the second woman who became the cabinet minister in the Mann-led government. All of them took oath in Punjabi. Of the five new faces, four MLAs are from the Malwa region and one is from the Majha area.
With the induction of five more ministers, the strength of the state cabinet will reach 15, including the chief minister.
After AAP formed the government following its resounding victory in the assembly polls, 10 MLAs, including eight first-timers, were inducted as ministers in March.
However in May, Health Minister Vijay Singla was sacked from the state cabinet over graft charges, taking the strength of ministers to nine in the Cabinet.
There are 18 berths in the cabinet, including the chief minister. The Aam Aadmi Party had stormed to power in Punjab by bagging 92 seats out of a total of 117.
Talking to reporters, CM Mann sent out a signal that the AAP MLAs who could not secure a berth in his cabinet might be given "big responsibilities" in future.
His reply came after reporters asked about two-time legislators like Sarvjit Kaur Manuke and Baljinder Kaur who could not make it to the state cabinet.
"Whether they won for the first time or the second time, it does not matter," said Mann.
The CM said all ministers will work honestly and in a transparent manner.
"I am proud of my cabinet. I expect that whatever responsibility is given to them, they will perform it," he said.
Mann said he has a lot of burden on him as he has too many portfolios.
"We will allot good portfolios to them," said Mann. On being asked when the portfolios will be allotted, the chief minister said, "These will be given by tomorrow or a day after tomorrow."
Suman MLA Aman Arora, 48, is a two-time legislator from Sunam, had recorded the highest victory margin of 75,277 votes in the Assembly polls by defeating Congress candidate Jaswinder Dhiman.
His name for the ministerial position was speculated in March too when 10 ministers were inducted by the Mann-led government but he could not secure the berth at that time.
Arora had joined AAP in 2016. He is the son of former Punjab minister Bhagwan Das Arora, who passed away in 2000.
Amritsar South legislator Dr Inderbir Singh Nijjar, 66, is a radiologist by profession. He trounced Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Talbir Singh Gill by a margin of 27,503 votes during the state assembly polls.
In May, Nijjar was elected president of the century-old charitable-cum-educational body Chief Khalsa Diwan that runs schools, colleges, old-age homes and hospitals in Punjab.
Nijjar was initially elected protem speaker before Kultar Singh Sandhwan was elected the speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
Anmol Gagan Mann (32), who represents the Kharar assembly seat, is the second woman to be inducted in the cabinet. Anmol, a Punjabi singer, had joined AAP in the 2020 and was the co-president of the party's youth wing in the state.
She had sung the party's poll song, "Kejirwal hai", during the Assembly elections. She had defeated SAD candidate Ranjit Singh Gill by 37,885 votes.
Fauja Singh Sarari, a retired policeman, was elected from Guru Har Sahai in Ferozepur. He belongs to the Rai Sikh community.
Sarari, 61, had defeated SAD candidate Vardev Singh by 10,574 votes.
Samana MLA Chetan Singh Jouramajra, 55, had defeated SAD nominee Surjit Singh Rakhra by 39,713 votes.