SAYS HAD CALLED MEETING OF POLICE TOP BRASS TO GIVE DIRECTIONS IN STATE’S INTEREST, DID NOT INTERFERE IN COURT MATTER
Chandigarh, April 24: Infusing fresh wave of dynamism into the government, the new ministers of the Punjab cabinet on Tuesday took over their departments in the presence of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who exuded the optimism that they would perform well, with the “best” having been selected for the jobs.
Reiterating that the Dalit/OBC community had been given adequate representation in the cabinet, the Chief Minister pointed out, in response to media queries later, that not all the 77 ruling party MLAs can be made ministers but, those left out would be suitably accommodated, as already promised by him.
When pointed out that some of the ministers did not have sufficient qualifications to head their departments, the Chief Minister said they all had qualified and experienced staff to help them carry out their jobs. A defence minister is not an Army General, he quipped, interacting with mediapersons after the installation of the new ministers in their offices at the Punjab Secretariat.
Efficiencies are bound to improve with the expansion of the cabinet, said Captain Amarinder Singh, observing that already, there was a marked improvement in the state’s overall situation. Even the financial conditions had improved slightly, he said, pointing out that pensions had been disbursed regularly under the various social security schemes for the past four months.
To a question regarding the plea made by DGP (human resource development) Sidhharth Chattopadhyaya’s lawyer in the Punjab & Haryana High Court that the Chief Minister was in contempt of court for having called a disciplinary meeting of the police top brass, Captain Amarinder Singh said he had not interfered in any way in the matter before the court. He had only given directions to his police officers in the interest of the state, said the Chief Minister, asserting that he would not tolerate indiscipline in the force. “Discipline in the uniformed forces, be it the Army, the paramilitary or the police, has to be maintained at all costs,” he asserted.
The Chief Minister reiterated, in response to another question, that the only way to bring Harpreet Singh Sidhu to the state to head the STF against drugs was to get him into the CMO since he was then on central deputation, where he was then yet to complete his tenure. Now that his pending tenure with the central government has ended, he has been placed under the DGP, Captain Amarinder explained.
The Chief Minister said his government was considering introducing Chinese as an optional language selectively in some schools as the language would have an extremely important role to play, globally, in the future. Several shops in Doaba region were even now teaching Italian and other foreign languages, he noted, underlining the need to impart foreign language training to students to enable them to compete effectively in the global market.
Earlier, the Chief Minister moved from floor to floor, starting from the 7th, to see his new ministerial colleagues settle down to their job. On the seventh floor, a paath of Sri Sukhmani Sahib ji marked the installation of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development & Labour Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu. The Chief Minister was also greeted enthusiastically in the offices of Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on the same floor.
Captain Amarinder, flanked by senior party functionaries, escorted Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi to his chair in his sixth floor office, before moving down to the fifth floor to visit PWD & IT Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, and Industries & Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora in their offices. Enthusiastic workers were present at every floor to welcome the Chief Minister, who completed the installation process in the offices of Education & Environment Minister O P Soni and Cooperation & Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. He also went to the office of Higher Education Minister, Razia Sultana, who was elevated to the cabinet minister’s rank in the recent expansion.