Chandigarh: The Punjab government has appointed six minister-rank advisors to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, a move termed by the opposition BJP as an attempt to circumvent the constitutional cap on the size of state's Cabinet.
The development is also being seen as an attempt to placate those who failed to get a berth in the last Cabinet reshuffle in the state.
Five Congress MLAs will now get the status of Cabinet ministers and the sixth that of a minister of state, officials said on Tuesday.
Four MLAs -- Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon of Faridkot, Singh Raja Warring of Gidderbaha, Sangat Singh Gilzian of Urmur and Inderbir Singh Bolaria of Amritsar South -- have been designated as advisors (political) while the fifth one, Kuljeet Singh Nagra of Fatehgarh Sahib, has been designated as advisor (planning), officials said.
All the five have been given the Cabinet rank and status, they said. The sixth one -- Tarsem Singh DC of Attari -- has been given the designation of Advisor (planning) with the rank of a minister of state, the officials said.
The opposition claimed the move is aimed at circumventing the Constitution (91th amendment) Act, 2003.
“It is clearly a step to circumvent the law whereby the strength of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total members of the House. With the appointment of political advisers, the government is putting additional financial burden on the state exchequer,” BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh said.
With 117 members in the Punjab assembly, the maximum strength of the council of ministers can be 18. Including the chief minister, the Punjab government has already 17 ministers in its Cabinet.
The chief minister's move came amid resentment among some Congress legislators over several issues, including denied ministerial berths. Some MLAs are also upset with the state government over its handling of cases of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in the state in 2015....