Charanjit Singh Channi’s Dalit outreach with overnight stay at Dera Sachkhand Ballan
JALANDHAR: In a bid to woo Dalit votes, Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi spent a night at Dera Sachkhand Ballan, a prominent Ravidassia community sect in the Doaba region of Punjab before heading out on Wednesday morning to Jalandhar to attend a Republic Day event.
In Kapurthala district’s Phagwara where he went on poll campaign later on Wednesday, Channi referred to his overnight stay at Dera Sachkhand Ballan overruling the advice of some bureaucrats. “Some two or three officials called me that he should not stay in Dera as I had to unfurl the national flag on the Republic Day in Jalandhar,” Channi said, adding that he turned down the advice.
Describing his stay at the Dera, Channi said it gave him great pleasure to spend the night in the room where the head of Dera, Sant Niranjan Dass stayed and also listened to the Sant’s religious preachings.
To be sure, Channi isn’t the only politician to have visited the Dera in recent times. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Shiromani Akali Dal president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, senior BJP leaders visited at Dera Sachkhand Ballan.
To his audience in Phagwara, the Punjab chief minister assured them that he understands the seriousness of their demand to carve out Phagwara as a new district from Kapurthala district since people have to go to the district headquarters in Kapurthala for every work. Channi said he didn’t see a reason why Phagwara couldn’t be a district and promised to resolve this demand. He also said Congress MLA, Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, also the party candidate for next month’s election, will be a minister when the next government led by the Congress assumes charge.
Channi also launched direct attacks on the Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party chief and AAP’s presumptive chief minister Bhagwant Mann over his alleged drinking problem, saying former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh starts his shop (a colloquial reference to sitting down for drinks) at 4pm while Bhagwant Mann started two hours later.
Turning to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which is in alliance with SAD, Channi said that the BSP didn’t stake claim on 35% seats - the proportion of Dalits in Punjab - in its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal and settled for just 20 seats, and that too, in urban areas where the BSP isn’t best placed to win elections. Accusing the BSP of selling out the interests of the community, Channi said 13 of the 20 BSP candidates were inducted from the Akali Dal in the first place.
‘Doaba, heartland of martyrs’
Describing Doaba as the the heartland of martyrs, Channi said this region was the epicentre of the Ghadar and Babbar movements which spearheaded the freedom struggle against the British imperialism. In his address after unfurling the tricolour on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day, Channi recalled the countless sacrifices made during Independence movement by several iconic revolutionaries Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shaheed Udham Singh, Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha, Madan Lal Dhingra, Diwan Singh Kalepani and many others. “These freedom fighters envisioned an India free from the maladies of illiteracy, unemployment, social, economic and legal inequality.
Stressing on the exceptional contribution made by Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in drafting the Constitution of the nation, the chief minister said that it was an humongous task to frame the constitution for a country as diverse as ours but Baba Saheb made strenuous efforts and accomplished the gigantic work with aplomb.