Charanjit Singh Channi to be next Punjab Chief Minister

Channi, a Dalit face, was on Sunday elected as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP), paving way for his appointment as CM. Channi was a minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet

Charanjit Singh Channi
Charanjit Singh Channi

Bipin Bhardwaj

Congress MLA Charanjit Singh Channi was elected the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Punjab on Sunday and will be the next chief minister, succeeding Amarinder Singh who resigned a day ago following a bitter power tussle in the party.

AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said in a tweet, It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. #CharanjitSinghChanni has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab."

A three-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib Consistency and former Punjab cabinet minister of Technical Education and Industrial Training in Capt. Amrinder Singh's government, Charanjit Singh Channi (58) belongs to the Ramdasia Sikh community.

He is the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab.

Previously, Channi was the leader of opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from 2015 to 2016. He succeeded Sunil Jakhar and was succeeded by HS Phoolka.

Channi's selection assumes significance as the dissension-riven Congress faces the Assembly polls in less than five months.

The BJP had earlier announced that if voted to power in Punjab, it will make a Dalit the chief minister, while the SAD, which is fighting the coming polls in alliance with the BSP, had said that its Deputy Chief Minister would be from the Dalit community.

Channi met the Punjab Governor and staked claim to form government, sources said, adding that Rawat and the party's central observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary accompanied him.

The decision over Channi's appointment was taken by the Congress high command comprising party chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Ambika Soni and a few other senior leaders after taking feedback from AICC Secretary incharge of Punjab Harish Rawat, and observers Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken appointed by the party to resolve the current political crisis.

Rawat, Maken and Chaudhary have been camping at Chandigarh’s Sector 35 located hotel and holding telephonic discussions with the party MLAs to take their feedback. They were in touch with the party leadership in Delhi.

Amarinder Singh said he hopes that Channi is able to keep the border state of Punjab safe.

"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," he said.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was said to be the frontrunner for the post.

However, after Channi's name was announced, Randhawa said, "I welcome the decision of the party high command."

Another senior leader, Brahm Mohindra, too welcomed the election of Channi, who is considered close to state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Early in the day, hectic talks were held to finalise the name of new leader of the CLP, a day after Amarinder Singh resigned as the chief minister amid a bitter power tussle with Sidhu.

Rawat, Maken and Harish Chaudhary who have been camping at a hotel here held discussions with the MLAs and took their feedback.

(With inputs from PTI)

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    Published: 19 Sep 2021, 6:10 PM