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Punjab cabinet expansion: Ten AAP MLAs inducted into Bhagwant Mann's cabinet

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Chandigarh, Mar 19: Ten AAP MLAs, including a woman, were inducted in the Bhagwant Mann-led Cabinet in Punjab here on Saturday. Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 10 ministers at Punjab Bhawan.

Punjab cabinet expansion: 10 ministers in Bhagwant Manns Punjab government to take oath today

All of them took the oath in Punjabi. Barring Harpal Singh Cheema and Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, eight others are first-time MLAs. Cheema, a legislator from Dirba, was the first to take oath followed by Dr Baljit Kaur, the lone woman in the cabinet and MLA from Malout.

Next to take the oath was Harbhajan Singh from Jandiala, followed by Dr Vijay Singla from Mansa, Lal Chand from Bhoa, Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer from Barnala, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal from Ajnala, Laljit Singh Bhullar from Patti, Bram Shanker Jimpa from Hoshiarpur and Harjot Singh Bains from Anandpur Sahib.

There are 18 berths in the cabinet, including the chief minister, but Bhagwant Mann has gone for a lean cabinet. Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann were among those present at the event.

Punjab Governor Purohit had on Wednesday administered the oath of office and secrecy to Bhagwant Mann in a swearing-in ceremony at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

The Aam Aadmi Party bagged 92 seats in the 117-member Punjab Assembly, decimating the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party combine, and the BJP-Punjab Lok Congress-SAD (Sanyukt) alliance.

In the cabinet, the party gave representation to five MLAs from Malwa, four from Majha and one from the Doaba region. It has accommodated four MLAs who represent reserve constituencies -- Dirba, Jandiala, Malout and Bhoa.

However, the AAP MLAs who defeated stalwarts, including Congress' Charanjit Singh Channi, Navjot Singh Sidhu, SAD's Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal and Punjab Lok Congress chief Amarinder Singh did not find a place in the cabinet. Mann had announced the names of MLAs who will be inducted into the cabinet on Friday.

Of the cabinet members, Harpal Singh Cheema is a two-time legislator from Dirba and the party's Dalit face. He had been the Leader of the Opposition in the previous assembly. An advocate by profession, Cheema defeated Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Gulzar Singh Moonak from the Dirba assembly seat.

Two-time Barnala MLA Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer is the president of the AAP's youth wing. He defeated SAD nominee Kulwant Singh Keetu. Dr Baljit Kaur, 46, who won from Malout seat is an eye surgeon.

The daughter of former AAP MP Sadhu Singh had joined the party after resigning from her job at Muktsar civil hospital. During poll meetings, she had even examined eye patients. Dr Vijay Singla, 52, won from Mansa seat after defeating popular Punjabi singer and Congress candidate from Mansa Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu Moosewala.

Singla is a dentist. Harjot Bains has been elected from Anandpur Sahib. He defeated former Speaker and Congress candidate Rana K P Singh. An advocate by profession, he had unsuccessfully contested from the Sahnewal assembly seat in 2017. Laljit Singh Bhullar was elected from the Patti seat. He defeated political stalwart Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, who is the son-in-law of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Harbhajan Singh won from Jandiala seat after defeating Punjab Congress working president Sukhwinder Singh Danny. Harbhajan Singh had unsuccessfully contested from Jandiala seat in 2017. Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal was elected Ajnala assembly seat. He defeated SAD candidate Amarpal Singh. Lal Chand Kataruchakk got elected from the Bhoa seat in Pathankot defeating Congress candidate Joginder Pal. Bram Shanker Jimpa has been elected from the Hoshiarpur seat.

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He defeated former minister and Congress nominee Sunder Sham Arora. Bhagwant Mann's daughter Seerat Mann (21) and son Dilshan Mann (17) who arrived from the USA recently, attended the oath-taking ceremony. PTI

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