Badal to induct son as Punjab deputy chief minister

January 15th, 2009 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyJalandhar/Chandigarh, Jan 15 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has decided to induct his son Sukhbir as deputy chief minister - probably the first case in Indian politics where a father and son will be holding such positions.”It is the decision of the party (Akali Dal) that Sukhbir should be the deputy chief minister. We have discussed this with top BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) central leadership, including L.K. Advani,” Badal told reporters in Jalandhar city, 150 km from Chandigarh, Thursday.

Speculation had been rife in Punjab’s political circles that Sukhbir could take over reins of the Punjab government from his 83-year-old father. But now, the father-son duo will run the state together after Sukhbir is inducted into the government.

The elevation of Sukhbir as deputy chief minister is being done with an eye on the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Much of the organisational responsibility of the Akali Dal lies now with Sukhbir. He is also seen as the man who runs the show in the Punjab government, albeit behind the scenes.

But the chief minister refused to say anything when asked if the matter had been discussed with the Punjab BJP leadership also.

Badal junior was made the Akali Dal president, a post earlier held by Parkash Singh Badal, over a year back. The move, which meant that other senior Akali leaders were ignored in the process, was seen as being aimed at ultimately putting Sukhbir on the chief minister’s chair.

The Badal government assumed office in Punjab March 2007 and still has over three years of tenure to go. The Akalis run an alliance government with the BJP.

Senior cabinet minister and BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia had been in the run for the deputy chief minister’s post for the last several months.

BJP sources in Chandigarh said they were surprised at the development of elevating Sukhbir as deputy chief minister.

“No one has even mentioned it to us, leave alone discussing the matter,” a senior Punjab BJP leader told IANS.

Sources said the BJP would demand that if Sukhbir is elevated, there should be a BJP deputy chief minister also.

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