Charanjit Singh Channi, first Dalit leader to take oath as Punjab CM

Charanjit Singh Channi, first Dalit leader to take oath as Punjab CM

Hummingbird News Desk

NEW DELHI, 19 SEP: Charanjit Singh Channi, a three-time MLA and a Dalit leader from Chamkaur Sahib assembly segment, will take oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday at 11 a.m.

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An official statement by the Governor’s House said Charanjit Singh Channi through his letter to the Governor Punjab Banwarilal Purohit, informed that in a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party held on 19 September, he was elected as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the Punjab Legislative Assembly.

“Governor Punjab Shri Purohit congratulated him and invited him to take oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab on September 20, 2021 at Punjab Raj Bhawan at 11 a.m.,” the statement said.

Channi was accompanied by senior Congress leader Harish Rawat, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu, Cabinet ministers Brahm Mohindra, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukh Sarkaria and Aruna Chaudhary.

The Congress on Sunday named a Dalit face of the party and third-time legislator from Chamkaur Sahib constituency, Charanjit Singh Channi (58) as the new Chief Minister of Punjab.

Congress 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.”

Following the decision, Channi met the Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhawan and staked a claim to form the government. The oath taking ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Channi was the technical education and industrial training, tourism and cultural affairs, employment generation minister in the Captain Amarinder Singh government. He was one of the four ministers who had openly revolted against Amarinder Singh.

Previously, Channi was the leader of Opposition in the Assembly from 2015 to 2016. He belongs to the Ramdasia Sikh community. Channi’s spectacular rise in politics started as a president of the Kharar municipal council 2002. He contested the 2007 Assembly polls from the Chamkaur Sahib constituency as a Congress rebel and won as an Independent from this reserved constituency.

In 2012, he joined the Congress and won the seat. In 2016, he was made the leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly against the wishes of Captain Amarinder Singh. Channi enjoys faith of the Congress high command and he is seen as a choice of the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Channi will be the first CM of the Dalit community in the state. Dalits make up an estimated 31.9 per cent of Punjab’s overall population. Besides this, backward classes constitute 18 per cent of Punjab’s population.

The Congress has also decided to appoint two deputy chief ministers. The names of Brahm Mohindra, a Hindu face, and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who is a Jat Sikh, are learnt to be more or less final for the deputy CM’s posts. Randhawa is also being considered for home and vigilance portfolios, according to sources. Both were minister in the Amarinder Singh cabinet. Earlier, former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, a key frontrunner for the CM’s post, was also offered one of these slots by two central leaders before the Channi’s name was made public. “First, one of the central observers phoned him to offer the deputy chief ministership, but he refused. Later, an AICC general secretary spoke to him, but the former PCC chief did not budge, telling them that he was not after any post, according to sources.

His appointment is being touted by some party leaders as a “strategic move” to counter the attempts of rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to woo Dalit voters. The BJP has already declared that if voted to power in the state in next year’s assembly elections, it will have a Dalit CM. The SAD has struck an electoral alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), with the promise to pick a deputy chief minister from the community if they get the numbers to form the government in 2022.

At 32%, Dalits constitute almost a third of the state’s population—the highest anywhere in the country.

Tags: #CharanjitSinghChanni #PunjabCM #FirstDalitCM

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