Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab government seems to have decided to start practising what it preaches, viz the ‘Padho Punjab, Padhao Punjab’ campaign.

Nine new ministers who were inducted on Saturday have studied at least up to Class 10 and in Dalit-dominated Doaba, there is anger that Sangat Singh Gilzian lost out on a cabinet berth purely on account of his educational qualifications, or lack thereof, if Congress leaders familiar with the logic of the cabinet expansion are to be believed. Gilzian, who has won the Urmur seat three times, hails from the Lubana community, classified under backward classes (BC), which holds considerable political clout. “Gilzian was in the race. But Congress president Rahul Gandhi did not want to accommodate those who are not even matriculates. So Gilzian, who has studied till Class 8, was dropped,” disclosed a senior leader who was involved in the choice of the inductees.

The selection was made by a panel comprising the chief minister, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, state affairs in-charge Asha Kumari and co-incharge Harish Chaudhary.

Gilzian, HT learns, is not amused that two-time MLA, Sham Sunder Arora, a realtor, also from Doaba, made it to the cabinet to become the state’s new industry and commerce minister. Gilzian’s phone remained switched off on Monday, but a leader close to him said he is unhappy over Arora’s selection.

State Congress president Sunil Jakhar said, “The portfolios have been given entirely on the basis of capabilities of the ministers, and educational qualification was also considered.”

Of the nine ministers, four have completed either Class 10 or Class 12. Five are graduates.

Sports minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi dropped out after Class 12, and animal husbandry and labour minister Balbir Sidhu dropped out of college.

A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms says that 38% of MLAs in the present assembly have declared their educational qualification to be between Class 5 and 12, while 60% are graduate or above.

The other new ministers, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, are graduates.

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