A few months back, barely a few people outside his assembly constituency knew Charanjit Singh Channi. Fast forward, January 2022, political manoeuvrings made him one of the most precious gems for Priyanka Gandhi.
Punjab CM files his nomination papers
Recently, Charanjit Singh Channi, the chief minister of Punjab decided to contest the 2022 Punjab assembly elections from two seats. On 31st January, Channi filed nomination papers before the returning officer of Tapa. He will be contesting from the Bahadur assembly seat.
Channi was accompanied by former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. At the time of his nomination, Channi compared himself to Sudama and said that he has come to Malwa as Sudama and people will make him Krishna.
Congress has decided to field Channi from two assembly constituencies. In their first list, Channi was shortlisted as Congress’ contestant from Chamkaur Sahib, a seat which has been his den in past. However, if opposition parties are to be believed then Channi is set to lose from Chamkaur due to corruption. Both AAP and Siromani Akali Dal had asserted their claims about Channi’s loss.
Based on their assertion, opposition parties have said that Channi is contesting from two assembly seats in order to ensure that he emerges as the winner in at least one of them.
Chaani-A makeshift arrangement more reliable than Sidhu for Congress
With Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress faces one peculiar problem. Though he is the chief minister of Punjab, it is widely believed that Channi does not have much clout in state politics. When Captain Amarinder Singh was thrown out of power by Navjot Singh Sidhu led the political coup, Channi was nowhere in contention for the CM candidate.
However, since elections were nearing and Congress was constantly accused of catering to only Jaat Sikh vote bank, they could not afford to replace one Jaat (Captain Amarinder Singh) with another Jaat (Navjot Singh Sidhu). Now, Congress wanted to ensure a place for itself in the Dalit Sikh community
Chaani being a Dalit Sikh turned out to be the perfect candidate for Congress looking for Dalit Sikh vote banks. His elevation as chief minister was believed to be a part-time arrangement by many. This means that it is tough for Charanjit to garner votes on his own. Moreover, his struggle for power with Navjot Singh Sidhu is also an issue that Congress needs to sort out.
Channi won’t revolt like Sidhu
Apparently, all political developments in the state indicate that Congress wants to declare Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief minister candidate for the upcoming elections. Priyanka Gandhi seems to have realised that if Sidhu can throw out Captain Amarinder Singh from power, he is too dangerous for the party’s stability.
Channi, therefore, emerges as a perfect alternative for Sidhu. He is docile and restricts himself to the party’s line, a trait favoured by Congress even before Manmohan Singh days.
Multi-pronged battle in Punjab
Moreover, political equations in Punjab are turning out to be multi-pronged. While Hindus are more likely to vote for BJP, Sikhs’ votes are up for grabs. Up until now, Congress was believed to be the top contender for Sikh votes, but Captain Amarinder Singh’s ousting has increased complexities. It made Congress unpopular in Jaat Sikhs.
Inch by Inch, Sikhs votes in Punjab are drifting towards BJP. Captain Amarinder Singh is now in alliance with the BJP. The former chief minister is believed to bring in the majority of Sikh votes with him. Moreover, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s party is also in support of the saffron party.
Keeping all these equations in mind, Channi is the most important leader for Congress. Priyanka Gandhi wants him for Dalit votes. Moreover, he won’t threaten Congress’ leaders, something they can’t expect from Sidhu. It is only logical for Priyanka Gandhi to safeguard Channi’s election prospects.