Nine new Punjab cabinet ministers were sworn in at the Raj Bhavan here on Saturday as three Congress MLAs quit their party posts after being ignored in the first expansion of the year-old Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government.
Ministers of State Aruna Chaudhary and Razia Sultana were also elevated as cabinet ministers.
Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore administered the oath of office to the new ministers.
Three legislators – Sangat Singh Gilzian from Urmur assembly segment, Nathu Ram from Balluana and Surjit Singh Dhiman from Amargarh – have resigned from their posts in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.
Gilzian resigned on Friday when the names of the nine new ministers were announced after a meeting between Amarinder Singh and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi. The two other resignations came in on Saturday, just hours before the swearing-in ceremony.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his cabinet colleagues and other senior party leaders, including Asha Kumari and Harish Chaudhary, were present during the ceremony.
Five-time MLA from Amritsar Central O P Soni was the first among the ministers to be sworn in. Four-time MLA Rana Gurmit Sodhi (Guru Har Sahai constituency) and three-time legislators Sukhjinder Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak), Gurpreet Kangar (Rampura Phul), Sukhbinder Sarkaria (Raja Sansi) and Balbir Sidhu (Mohali) are among the other new ministers.
Youth leader and Sangrur MLA Vijay Inder Singla, two-time MLA Sunder Sham Arora from Hoshiarpur and two-time MLA from Ludhiana West Bharat Bhushan Ashu too were administered oath. The new ministers and the two MoS who were elevated to the cabinet rank took oath in Punjabi.
Among the new ministers, four are prominent Hindu faces while five others belong to the Sikh community. Most of them are considered close to the Chief Minister.
Amarinder Singh had earlier said seniority was a key criterion in the selection of the new ministers, and that they were chosen keeping in view regional representation and their capabilities. Among the new ministers, the politically crucial region of Malwa in Punjab has been rewarded with maximum berths with five slots while Majha got three and Doaba one.