Portfolios of BJP ministers in Punjab reshuffled

Chandigarh, Sep 24 (IANS) A day after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh met Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here, the portfolios of BJP ministers in the Punjab cabinet were reshuffled Tuesday.

Local Government and Medical Education and Research Minister Chunni Lal Bhagat will now hold charge of forest, wild life and labour, while Madan Mohan Mittal, who held portfolios of health and family welfare, social security and development of women and children along with parliamentary affairs minister, will now handle industries and commerce, technical education and industrial training as well as retaining parliamentary affairs.

Forest and Wildlife Preservation and Labour Minister Surjit Kumar Jiyani has been given the portfolios held earlier by Mittal, while Anil Joshi has been shifted from industries and commerce, technical education and industrial training to the local government and medical education and research department.

The reshuffle was approved by Governor Shivraj Patil on the advice of the chief minister, a state government spokesman said here.

The BJP has an alliance government with the Akali Dal in Punjab since 2007.

The BJP ministers found themselves surrounded by a controversy started by their own party colleague, Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who remained missing from his constituency for nearly eight months, has levelled allegations of discrimination against the state government. He alleged that no development was taking place in Amritsar due to the Badal government's apathy.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Akali Dal president, had dismissed Sidhu's remarks saying that the issues raised by Sidhu pertained to departments held by the BJP ministers. Badal said that the issues were an "internal matter of the BJP".

The BJP president had wanted to sort out Sidhu's issues with the chief minister but the latter refused to meet him Monday.

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