In what is widely being seen as a bid to resurrect its image ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab next February, the Bharatiya Janata Party has denied Cabinet berths to two of its seniormost ministers in a hasty reshuffle conducted following the party high command’s decision to seek resignation of all its Punjab ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries on Thursday.
Both Manoranjan Kalia and Swarna Ram, whose names have figured in a `1.5-crore bribery scandal currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, have been dropped in a move the party’s national leadership hopes will refurbish its own face at a time when it is attacking Delhi’s UPA government for corruption.
But insiders said the reshuffle has also been used to settle other scores both in the dropping of transport minister Mohan Lal and in shifting the firebrand Hindu Suraksha Samiti activist Lakshmi Kanta Chawla from her chosen health ministry to social security and women and child development.
Former forests minister Tikshan Sud, however, was rewarded both with an elevation to the industries portfolio and designated with the leader of the BJP in the Vidhan Sabha.
A total of five Cabinet ministers — Tikshan Sud, Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, Satpal Gosain, Surjit Kumar Jiyani and Arunesh Shakir — and an identical number of CPS’s — K.D. Bhandari, Amarjit Sahi, Dinesh Singh, Sukhpal Nannu and Bishambar Das — were administered the oath of office and secrecy by governor Shivraj Patil at the Punjab Raj Bhavan on Sunday morning.
Mr Gosain resigned as deputy speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha shortly before his induction to the state Cabinet. Asian Age