‘Old habit’: BJP says Congress made Channi Punjab CM to win Dalit votes
Taking a fresh dig at Punjab’s ruling dispensation, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) in charge of the state unit, Dushyant Kumar Gautam on Monday said that selecting Charanjit Singh Channi as the first Dalit chief minister is part of the Congress’ “conspiracy” to get Dalit votes. After what can be justified as a roller-coaster of political events in Punjab, the Congress party on Sunday chose Charanjit Singh Channi to become the 16th chief minister to succeed Captain Amarinder Singh—who quit after claiming he “felt humiliated”.
“This is an old habit of the Congress. It believes that it can capture the Dalit vote bank by making a Dalit the chief minister for a few months. A conspiracy is being hatched in Punjab to grab Dalit vote bank,” Gautam, who also belongs to the community, said. “The Congress has humiliated Dalits innumerable times,” he added.
Emphasising his point, the BJP leader said that Congress in the past had made a similar move in Maharashtra and Rajasthan as well. Gautam pointed out that Congress made Dalit leader Sushil Kumar Shinde the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2003, only to replace him with Vilasrao Deshmukh when the party won the assembly elections in 2004.
The BJP leader noted that in Rajasthan too, Congress made Jagannath Pahadia the chief minister of the state in 1980 but removed him from the post within a year. Gautam claimed that Congress often used former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram to grab votes of the Dalit community, but “insulted” him and even went to the extent of removing him from the party when the time came to pay him his due.
Gautam is not the only BJP leader to take a jibe at Congress for selecting Channi. On Sunday, BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted that Channi faces action in a Me Too case after the three-time MLA allegedly sent an inappropriate text to a woman IAS officer in 2018. “It was covered up but the case resurfaced when the Punjab Women’s Commission sent notice. Well done, Rahul (Congress leader Rahul Gandhi),” Malviya added in his post.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took to the micro-blogging site to congratulate Channi for swearing-in as Punjab’s chief minister. “Will continue to work with the Punjab government for the betterment of the people of Punjab,” PM Modi tweeted.
Notably, Punjab will go into elections next year. Channi was unanimously chosen for the charge after Amarinder Singh quit following four-and-half years of reign in the state. Singh’s departure was a culmination of the constant scuffle between him and Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu.