Charanjit Singh Channi to be Punjab chief minister, first Dalit CM of the state
Punjab gets its first Dalit chief minister as Congress packs a surprise in its CM pick and announces Charanjit Singh Channi as the replacement of Amarinder Singh.
A Dalit face of Congress, Charanjit Singh Channi will be the next chief minister of Punjab, Congress leader Harish Rawat announced on Twitter ending the day-long speculation over the crucial post. “It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Shri Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab,” Harish Rawat tweeted.
The new chief minister will take oath on Monday at 11am. “Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji for the new responsibility. We must continue to fulfil the promises made to the people of Punjab. Their trust is of paramount importance,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted congratulating Charanjit Singh Channi.
Charanjit Singh Channi is a three-time MLA and the first Dalit chief minister of the state. With a clean political record, Channi has also been the former leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly. Channi was the technical education minister of the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet. In the assembly, he represents the Chamkaur Sahib constituency.
A resident of Mohali, the 58-year-old has no criminal cases against him. And he has a stellar academic credential with a law and an MBA degree.
The announcement follows a dramatic day of hectic parleys and ends with a surprise as Congress MLAs have earlier told that they proposed the name of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as the chief minister. Reports claimed that he also sought the appointment of the governor. “It's high command's decision..., I welcome it. Channi is like my younger brother...I am not at all disappointed,” Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said after the announcement.
So what happened in between?
People aware of the developments said that after Amarinder Singh's resignation, an offer went to Congress leader Ambika Soni but she rejected it saying that a Sikh must be the CM of Punjab. Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Kumar Jakhar was also ruled out as Congress MPs were reportedly not in favour of Jakhar becoming the CM. Then the Congress zeroed in on Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa which apparently did not go down well with Navjot Sidhu. And finally, the name of Charanjit Singh Channi was sealed. But he might not be CM face for the assembly election, sources hinted.