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IANS

Two days after taking oath as Punjab Chief Minister, Bhagwant Mann is set to get his first Council of Ministers, all first-timers, on Saturday.

Former Leader of the Opposition and a prominent Dalit face Harpal Singh Cheema may be inducted as the deputy chief minister. Cheema retained his Dirba seat.

The other probables in the Cabinet are Aman Arora, Kultar Sandhwan, Harjot Bains, Sarvjit Kaur Manuke, Baljinder Kaur, Gurmeet Singh Khudian, Neena Mittal and Kunwar Vijay Pratap.

It is learnt the party leadership is keen to induct six to seven ministers in the Council of Ministers that has space for 17 ministerial posts, excluding the Chief Minister's.

The remaining ministers will be inducted after a few months, a senior party leader told IANS.

Sunam MLA Aman Arora is a prominent Hindu face of the party and is known for his proximity with Mann. In 2018, when Mann had resigned from the post of the state president after Arvind Kejriwal apologised to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia on allegations of drug trade, Arora too had quit AAP. Both of them later rejoined the party.

Arora defeated Congress' Jaswinder Singh Dhiman by a record margin of 75,277 votes, state's highest.

First-timer Jivan Jyot Kaur, who emerged as the 'giant slayer' by showing the door to two political heavyweights -- Navjot Singh Sidhu of the Congress and Majithia, who were busy in mudslinging against each other, is likely to inducted a minister.

Another first-time Kunwar Vijay Prartap, who once served as the Amritsar SSP, is AAP's big face who registered a victory in Amritsar North by defeating his closest rival and SAD's Anil Joshi by a margin of 28,313 votes.

Party's state co-in-charge Raghav Chadha has already clarified that the induction of the Council of Ministers in government is the prerogative of Bhagwant Mann, setting aside speculations that Arvind Kejriwal will be taking the final call from Delhi.

The party is trying to maintain a balance in the Cabinet from the state's Malwa, Majha and Doaba regions.

The Malwa belt can get more ministers as the party owns 66 out of the 69 seats in the region. In Doaba, AAP won 10 out of 23 seats, while in Majha, it won 16 out of 25.

Also, this time AAP sent eight women legislators, five doctors, the richest legislator -- Kulwant Singh with assets of Rs 238 crore and won from Mohali -- and the youngest -- Narinder Kaur Bharaj, 27, to the Assembly.

The AAP recorded a thumping win by claiming 92 of the Assembly's 117 seats. The ruling Congress won 18, down from 77 in 2017.

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