NEW DELHI: Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who defected into Congress from BJP before Assembly elections, will be the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, sources said on Wednesday.
However, the Punjab Congress Legislative Party leader Amarinder Singh wanted Sidhu in his cabinet as a minister but the decision on Sidhu’s designation was taken by party high command in Delhi.
Sidhu had dubbed the Congress victory in Punjab assembly elections as its “revival” and blamed SAD’s rout on its leadership’s “arrogance and turning treasury into personal property”.
“It is the revival of the Congress; it is just the beginning. The Congress will revive from here, take energy from Punjab and spread across the country. It is my promise to Congress President Sonia Gandhi that we’ll work very hard to revive the state and make it an example for others to follow,” Sidhu had said after poll results.
Amarinder Singh will take oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab on Thursday.
Those likely to be inducted as ministers include industrialist Rana Gurjit Singh and former Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal.
Other names likely to be included on Thursday are that of Razia Sultana, who is from the minority Muslim community, and Aruna Chaudhary.
Also likely to be included are Amarinder’s loyalists and senior Congress leaders Brahm Mohindra and Rakesh Pandey.
This is the second time Amarinder will become Chief Minister of the state. He had remained Chief Minister from 2002-2007 previously.
Amarinder has opted for a low-key swearing-in ceremony keeping in mind the financial health of the state.
The low-key swearing-in opted for by Amarinder, who comes from the royal family of Patiala, is in sharp contrast to the crores of rupees spent by his predecessor Parkash Singh Badal for his own swearing-in gala public events in 2007 and 2012.
The Punjab government is believed to be under a massive debt of over Rs 200,000 crore, as per the claims of the Congress leaders during the election campaign.
Amarinder has requested all the newly-elected MLAs to also keep their personal invitations to the bare minimum to keep the ceremony simple.
The Congress swept the Punjab assembly elections in the results declared on Saturday, winning 77 out of 117 seats. The party returned to power after a decade.
(With inputs from agencies)