Despite resurrecting the aged-old Congress party in Punjab 2017 elections, former CM Amarinder Singh was rebuffed by the party’s high command decision to retain Navjot Singh Sidhu, a non-performing asset. However, a day after the resignation of Amarinder, Charanjit Singh Channi, Sidhu’s man Friday has been appointed as Punjab’s new Chief Minister on Sunday.
READ MORE: Could Captain Amarinder Singh join the BJP?
Charanjit Singh Channi – first Dalit CM of Punjab
Channi is the first Dalit to take oath as CM of Punjab. As per the ANI reports, “We have presented our stance, unanimously supported by party MLAs, before the Governor. Oath-taking ceremony will be held at 11 am tomorrow.” The former leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha during the previous SAD-BJP regime, Channi has been vocal against Amarinder, accusing him of “not paying attention” to issues raised by party leaders. Moreover, he is considered a close ally to AICC leader Rahul Gandhi.
With Channi’s induction as Chief Minister, the Congress party is aiming at Dalits of the state which holds around 31 per cent of Punjab’s population. Since the Akali Dal (earlier in power with the BJP) has allied with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party to tap Dalit votes, the Congress party is fearing the loss of Dalit votes and thus, Mr Channi, a Dalit Sikh face, has been appointed to counter that vote flow.
Charanjit Singh Channi- Sidhu’s man Friday
Right after Channi was inducted as Punjab’s Chief Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu took to Twitter to Congratulate him and lauded Congress’s move to replace Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi. Sidhu tweeted, “Historic !! Punjab’s first Dalit CM-Designate … Will be written with Golden letters in History. A tribute to the spirit of the Constitution and the Congress !!”
Historic !! Punjab’s first Dalit CM-Designate … Will be written with Golden letters in History. A tribute to the spirit of the Constitution and the Congress !! Congratulations @CHARANJITCHANNI Bai pic.twitter.com/WavudGTPok
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 19, 2021
Channi, who is assumed to be Sidhu’s man, has been by his side from the time the former had to quit as a minister in the Captain-led government. Channi became the front face to lead the rebellion against his chief minister when the first meeting of the dissenters was held in April at a private house in Panchkula.
Critical of the government’s inaction against the sacrilege cases in 2015, Channi is someone who has always publicly questioned the power policies of the Captain-led government in Punjab.
READ MORE: How Dangerous Sidhu really is?
Charanjit Singh Channi rebelled against Captain
While the revolt against Amarinder gathered momentum this April, Channi became one of the leading faces to oppose Amarinder. Additionally, he was among the four ministers who went to meet the Congress’s Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat in Dehradun to rally against Amarinder. He was also a signatory to the letter that called for a meeting of the Congress legislature party that further caused Amarinder’s exit.
Interestingly, it was Amarinder who made Channi’s return to the party possible in December 2010, when he had campaigned against the Congress nominee for the Chamkaur Sahib seat in the Assembly elections of 2007.
However, Amarinder has congratulated Channi for becoming the next Chief Minister and expressed hope that Channi would keep the “border state of Punjab safe”.
Amarinder’s media adviser Raveen Thukral tweeted on his behalf, “My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border”.
‘My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border’: @capt_amarinder pic.twitter.com/oO2F6JUZ6J
— Raveen Thukral (@RT_Media_Capt) September 19, 2021
Witnessing the drama in Punjab politics, the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections will be interesting as Congress will mark its end with massive defeat serving the victory to BJP.