#MeToo: Punjab minister Channi embarrassed, but no action likely for want of complaint
The unsavoury controversy over technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s alleged “inappropriate text message” to a woman IAS officer is not likely to result in any action for want of complaint.
Congress general secretary state in-charge, Asha Kumari, has brushed aside the issue saying no action can be taken without a complaint.
The officer in question had refused to meet the media and entertain any queries. A senior party functionary privy to the development said she is not likely to lodge a formal complaint with the party.
“As chief minister, Amarinder Singh is likely to tell Congress president Rahul Gandhi that he has resolved the matter. So there will be no complaint and no action,” he said.
Not that the minister’s misdemeanours are not known within the party. But the Congress’ line of defence is carefully calibrated. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar too said the party would take action if there is a complaint.
Questions are also being raised within the ruling party on the timing of the “leak”, a month after the reported transgression and CM asking the minister to aplogise to the officer. A section of Congress MLAs see it as a way to defect the attention from Turkey holiday of Amarinder within a week of a rail tragedy at Amritsar leaving 60 people dead and many injured. It also blunts Channi’s unbridled political ambitions and tirade against Amarinder.
Left embarrassed by the #MeToo sting, he can no longer confront the CM. Channi had earned the latter’s ire for his “over-activism” on scheduled castes (SCs) being ignored by government in state cabinet expansion, law officers appointment and job promotions.
He had also led made Dalit MLAs to meet Rahul after the cabinet expansion in April and was “organising’ them against the CM. One of the party MLAs said he was also lobbying for deputy CM’s post to a Dalit.
Of late, Channi had also joined ranks with ministers pressing the government for action against Badals following their indictment in the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report on Bargari sacrilege and police firing incidents of October 2015. No wonder the Akalis have been quick to lap up the controversy.
SAD president Sukhbir Badal has been leading the charge against the minister from the front. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also gunning for the minister. It diverts attention from its internal dissent. But still Channi may escape action till there is a complaint.