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Rahul Gandhi’s move to appoint Channi as Punjab CM bold decision: Jakhar

Sunil Jakhar, a Hindu face, was frontrunner for the chief minister’s post with Rahul’s backing after Capt Amarinder Singh resigned
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Punjab ex-chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh riding a tractor driven by then Punjab unit president Sunil Jakhar during their Kheti Bachao Yatra against the farm laws, in Sangrur district last October. (HT file photo)
Published on Sep 24, 2021 11:16 AM IST
By HT Correspondent

Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar on Friday hit out at the party’s opponents for attributing motives to its choice of the chief minister in the state.

Terming Charanjit Singh Channi’s appointment a bold decision, Jakhar said that the political opponents of the Congress are literally missing the forest for the trees in attributing political motives to the party’s choice of chief minister.

Also read: Channi meets central leadership in Delhi to discuss cabinet expansion

“What Rahul Gandhi has done by choosing Channi as CM is that he has broken the barely perceptible glass ceiling,” the former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president tweeted.

Channi is Punjab’s first Scheduled Caste chief minister.

Jakhar, a Hindu face, was a frontrunner for the chief minister’s post with Rahul’s backing after Capt Amarinder Singh resigned following months of internal strife that left the state unit divided. His name was more or less final at one stage, but a section of party leaders, including Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Ambika Soni and some MLAs, pressed for a Sikh CM. He later even took a dig at “petty-minded small people occupying high positions” for trying to divide Punjab on the basis of race/caste/identities.

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Says Punjabiat being put to test again

Jakhar said the bold decision (Channi’s appointment), though rooted in the ethos of Sikhism, is nevertheless a watershed moment not only for the polity but also for the social fabric of the state. “The warp and weft of this fabric is a complex interplay of aspirations and anxieties of all sections of society. This must be respected, maintained and nurtured as ‘raj dharma’ at all times,” he said, adding, “But there is clear and present danger of Punjabiat being put to test once again with usual divisive forces already weaponising this transformative initiative to fragment society”.

Jakhar said this threat cannot be wished away and if handled in inept and/or biased manner the prevailing robust brotherhood and amity, which has always been the pride of Punjab even in testing times, can be just as fragile and shatter just as easily as a “glass house”.

The new Congress dispensation is being keenly watched to see whether it has what it takes, he added.

Chance meeting with Rahul Gandhi

Jakhar’s statement came after he travelled with Rahul and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to Delhi on Wednesday evening when they were returning from Shimla. Though it was speculated that Rahul took feedback from him on expansion, Jakhar called it a “chance meeting”.

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