Amarinder to take oath as chief minister on Thursday, Phoolka to be leader of opposition

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After steering the Congress to a stupendous victory in Punjab, Amarinder Singh will take oath as Chief Minister here tomorrow, a ceremony which will be attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi.

Amarinder, who turned 75 on March 11 when assembly results were declared, will be sworn in as the state’s 26th chief minister along with nine cabinet ministers.

amarinder take oath

The ceremony will take place at Punjab Raj Bhavan at 10 am and the oath will be administered by Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore.

The state can have a maximum of 18 ministers. The Congress has 77 MLAs in the assembly.

Singh and members of his cabinet will be administered oath by Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore at the Raj Bhawan here tomorrow morning.

“Besides Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will attend the swearing-in,” a Congress release said here.

Former Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Ashwani Kumar, Rajeev Shukla, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh will also be present.

AICC general secretaries Ahmed Patel and Ambika Soni, besides secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari are also expected to attend the event.

The ceremony will be a simple and low-key affair, with Amarinder deciding not to spend excessively on symbolism “on account of the poor financial health of the state”, it said.

The Chief Minister designate has also appealed to all party MLAs and others not to indulge in excessive celebration and to keep the event austere so as not to further burden the “debt-ridden state exchequer”.

Singh said his government s priority would be to bring the state s economy, “which has been completely devastated under the SAD-BJP regime, back on the rails through every possible measure and innovative, out-of-the-box initiatives”.

“We do not want to celebrate when the people of Punjab are suffering due to severe financial and other problems,” Singh said, adding that there will be time enough to celebrate once his government has brought the state back on the path of growth and development.

Several newly elected MLAs including Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Brahm Mohindra, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Rana Gurjit Singh, Pargat Singh, Razia Sultana, O P Soni are in the race for becoming ministers, party sources said.

Senior Supreme Court advocate H S Phoolka will be the leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly with Aam Aadmi Party MLAs electing him as leader of the legislature party.

In a meeting today at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence here, attended by newly elected party MLAs from Punjab, Phoolka was elected as the leader of the AAP legislature party.

The MLAs also discussed the reasons behind AAP’s “disappointing” performance in the state, where the pollsters had predicted a sweep by it.

The AAP came a distant second in the Punjab assembly polls winning 20 seats, while Congress got 77 seats. The SAD-BJP alliance bagged just 18 seats in the 117-member Assembly.

62-year-old Phoolka, known for fighting cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims, was the only prominent party leader to have won the polls in Punjab.

He had resigned from all posts of AAP in September 2015 to focus on providing justice to 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira was appointed party’s chief whip in Punjab Assembly.

“We will fight for the rights of the people in Punjab in the assembly as well on the streets and highlight the plight of farmers,” Phoolka said after being chosen as the leader of the AAP legislature party.

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