Dalit-Sikh face, Sidhu's ‘yes’: What might have worked in favour of Charanjit Singh Channi
The race for the next chief minister of Punjab picked up on Sunday after Ambika Soni rejected the offer and the Congress was considering Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as a safe bet, after ruling former Punjab Congress president Sunil Kumar Jakhar out. Punjab Congress president Navjot Sidhu's name also came up, but insiders indicate that he will be the CM face for the Congress in the Punjab assembly election, while the new CM might have to be in the post only for the time being.
Charanjit Singh Channi is the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab. He belongs to the Ramdasia Sikh community. Insiders said the combination of both these factors that Charanjit Singh Channi is a Dalit and a Sikh worked in favour of him in the last leg of the race. And that's why the party's last-minute calculation surprised all speculation when Harish Rawat announced Channi's name as the new chief minister.
A Sikh face is important for the Punjab chief minister post. In fact, Punjab has never had a non-Sikh chief minister. This is the reason that Ambika Soni cited for rejecting the proposal from Rahul Gandhi. Another unofficial but important requirement to handle the top job in Punjab at present is to be in tandem with Navjot Singh Sidhu in which too Charanjit Singh Channi finally emerged as a safe bet, insiders said. Some reports indicated that Sidhu was not too happy with the proposal of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as the CM.
In addition, Charanjit Singh Channi has an impressive academic and political career. He is a law graduate and an MBA and has taken care of the technical education ministry. He is also a three-time MLA.