He is among the MLAs who list the highest number of questions in the Punjab assembly. He is also known to make most interventions in the house debates. Two-time Congress MLA Charanjit Channi attributes his activism within the assembly to his quest for gaining knowledge and putting it to practice.
In a state where many MLAs list their educational qualification as pre-matric, matric and post-matric, Channi, 46, boasts of master's degrees in law and business administration. Nowadays, he is busy taking exams for masters in political science.
"I come from a humble background and had to study while working in my father's tent business. I got admission to a college through the sports quota as I was a gold medallist in handball in the state-level games. I dabbled in local politics and was twice elected to the municipal body before becoming an MLA in 2007 from Chamkaur Sahib," he says.
A bachelor in law, the MLA enrolled for MBA in Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, in 2009 and was awarded a degree in 2011. After his re-election in 2012, he went on to do his masters in law through distance education from Karnataka State Open University and completed it in 2014. The same year, he enrolled for masters in political science at Panjab University, Chandigarh.
A politician in Punjab is an MBA even without a degree, he quips. "All that MLAs do is attend marriages (M), bhogs (B) and akhand paths (A). But I did MBA to add to my political profile," he adds.
Channi says the degrees in law, business administration and now political science have enriched his knowledge about various subjects and made him more "articulate" during discussions and debates in the House.
With the Congress looking for a Dalit face to cash in on high population of the community in Punjab, Channi seems to be eyeing greener pastures within the party or government in case the Congress comes to power.
"I am also preparing myself for a higher role in the party or the government. If I am appointed a minister, I should know how to run my department," he says.
Studying political science, Channi claims, has many other benefits, among them drawing analogies. Ask him to make one and he is quick to add, "I learnt in political science that democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. I used it to say in the assembly that the Badal government in Punjab is of the Badals, by the Badals and for the Badals."
Interestingly, the quest for degrees among young Congress leaders in Punjab is also owing to the belief that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi gives them a lot of importance while making appointments.
Punjab MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, who had listed higher secondary as his highest educational qualification in his poll affidavit during the 2012 elections, had claimed to be a graduate when appointed the Indian Youth Congress chief in December last year.