Punjab got its first Dalit Sikh Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi. He took the oath with two deputy chief ministers — Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni.
By Vaishali Pandey/ The Newster
After Amarinder Singh’s dramatic resignation last weekend only five months before the state’s election, Charanjit Singh Channi was sworn in as Punjab’s new Chief Minister today. He is Punjab’s first Dalit Chief Minister.
Channi took charge with two deputy chief ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni. Both picked to knot up the Congress’s electoral equation in Punjab ahead of state assembly election.
In the turbulent situation surrounding Punjab politics, Rahul Gandhi attended the oath ceremony despite prior speculations that he would not. The Congress leader has come under various criticism for his way of handling the party’s crisis, which has been raged for the last six months in a result of Amarinder Singh’s never ending dispute with Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Before Charanjit Channi Channi’s Oath-Taking Ceremony, Sunil Jhakar Made Headlines With His Tweet
A prominent Punjab Congress leader’s tweet just before the new Chief Minister’s swearing made it obvious that the transition would not be as pleasant as the party had expected.
Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who was initially considered for CM and one of most powerful contenders in the CM race, slammed a statement made by Harish Rawat, the party’s Punjab in-charge, in favour of Navjot Sidhu.
He tweeted, “On the swearing-in day of Charanjit Channi as Chief Minister, Mr Rawat’s statement that ‘elections will be fought under Sidhu’, is baffling. It is likely to undermine the Chief Minister’s (designate) authority but also negate the very ‘raison d’etre’ of his selection for this position.”
Opposition Slams Channi’s Appointment As Punjab’s CM
Charanjit Channi, a 58-year-old, is a three-time MLA and a minister in Amarinder Singh’s government. He was now Punjab’s new chief minister picked by congress high command as two more contenders dropped out of the new CM’s race.
Ambika Soni, the party’s first choice, allegedly declined the offer in a late-night meeting with Rahul Gandhi, citing the consequences of having a non-Sikh Chief Minister as Congress seeks re-election.
He is considered to be close to Navjot Singh Sidhu. That’s why opposition parties in Punjab have accused his appointment of being an “insult to Dalit Sikhs” because of the notion that he would only be a stand-in for Mr Sidhu.
BSP supremo Mayawati said, “The Congress remembers Dalits during polls. But the people of Punjab will not be fooled by such tactics.”
Politics Behind Channi’s Appointment
Congress choose over other contenders because Congress is hoping on Dalit voters, who make up 31% of Punjab’s population, to defeat the opposition Akali Dal, a former BJP ally who recently has paired up with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the upcoming elections next year.