Sukhbir Badal to return to Punjab government sans fanfare


Chandigarh : Less than 40 days after he was forced to resign as deputy chief minister, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal is all set to be re-inducted into the Punjab government headed by his father Parkash Singh Badal Monday.

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But compared to the millions of rupees spent on his first swearing-in at Amritsar in January this year, the oath-taking ceremony for Badal junior this time will be a quieter affair as he will be sworn-in by Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues at the Raj Bhawan here.

Sukhbir won the by-election from the Jalalabad assembly seat Thursday by over 80,000 votes to make his maiden entry into the state assembly.

He was forced to resign from his father’s government as deputy chief minister July 2 after he failed to fulfil the constitutional requirement of getting elected to the assembly within six months of being inducted as a minister.

His previous swearing in ceremony, held in an open ground in Amritsar Jan 21 this year, was attended by several dignitaries, including leaders from alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The event had cost the public exchequer over Rs.1 crore in direct expenses to the state government and indirect expenses of several millions of rupees in getting the VIPs, ministers, legislators and supporters to the venue.

“There will be no such elaborate arrangements this time. It will be a formal ceremony followed by tea and snacks. The auditorium can accommodate 100-150 people only,” a Raj Bhawan official told IANS.

With hot and humid conditions prevailing and access to the Raj Bhawan being only by invitation, Badal junior is unlikely to opt for being sworn-in out in the open.

The ruling Akali Dal, which runs an alliance government with the BJP in Punjab since March 2007, won all three seats where by-elections were held — Jalalabad, Banur and Kahnuwan.

The BJP, which has been seeking another post of deputy chief minister, is unlikely to be obliged this time also by the Akalis.

Though another ministerial berth, which fell vacant due to the death of former cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh in a road accident in March, is vacant, no other minister is likely to be inducted along with Sukhbir.

Supporters of Kanwaljit Singh are demanding that his son, Jasjit Singh Bunny, who won the Banur assembly seat Thursday, be inducted in his father’s place.