After day of drama, Channi is Punjab’s first Dalit Sikh CM | India News

CHANDIGARH: Punjab got its first Dalit Sikh CM in Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday as Congress ended a day of back-and-forth over Captain Amarinder Singh’s successor with a surprise pick it claimed was the “unanimous choice”, including that of the original contender and PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Channi, among the cabinet quartet who had declared they had lost confidence in Amarinder’s leadership, made the cut even as colleague Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was being talked about as Congress’s best bet once the party’s Hindu face, Sunil Jakhar, found himself out of the race.
AICC’s Punjab minder Harish Rawat indicated that the party was likely to appoint two deputy CMs. Brahm Mohindra, a Hindu face, and Randhawa, a Jat Sikh face, are the top contenders, sources said.
Channi, the 58-year-old three-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, had been hoping for the deputy CM’s post at best, sources said. Sidhu had positioned himself as the frontrunner for the chief ministership if Congress opted for a Jat Sikh – a point he put across forcefully during his meeting with the AICC panel – to replace Amarinder. The latter quit on Saturday, citing repeated “humiliation” by the central leadership. Apart from the Dalit factor, what swung the pendulum Channi’s way was Sidhu and Congress veteran Ambika Soni backing him, sources said.
The decision to pick Channi is seen as an attempt by Congress to outsmart rival parties trying to woo Dalit voters. The party’s central leadership took the call despite hectic lobbying by loyalists of the other contenders. “It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab,” Rawat tweeted to the surprise of many.

Punjab is home to a 32% Dalit population and Channi is expected to help the party reach out to a much larger voter base of both Dalits and Sikhs in the next assembly elections.
The fact that the new CM will have to get along well with Sidhu, and also focus on the interim period before the polls, were the other factors considered by Congress, insiders said.
Amid the turmoil in Congress since the revolt against Amarinder spilled into the open, Channi had flexed his political muscles by convening a meeting of the party’s Dalit leaders at his residence. Soon after being chosen to lead Congress in the 2022 assembly elections, the chief minister-in-waiting met governor Banwarilal Purohit to stake claim to form the government. The swearing-in was scheduled for 11am on Monday.
On whether his name was dropped as he might have emerged as a strong contender to be the party’s face in next year’s polls, Randhawa said, “Thanks for the compliment.” The day had begun with the three AICC observers – Rawat, Harish Choudhary and Ajay Maken – going into a huddle with Sidhu and the working presidents. The names then under consideration included Sidhu himself, Randhawa and former PCC chief Jakhar. When the observers subsequently decided to speak to around 70% of the party MLAs over the phone for their feedback, Randhawa and Jakhar emerged as the top contenders. “However, some insisted on a Dalit face and the official announcement of Randhawa’s name never happened,” said a party functionary.
This led to another round of brainstorming in the evening, after which all sides, including Sidhu, endorsed Channi’s name. The party’s central leadership had been in touch with the AICC observers through the day.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button