Charanjit Singh Channi, senior Congress leader and one of the party’s notable Dalit figures in Punjab, will be Punjab’s next Chief Minister. Congress announced the appointment a day after the resignation of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh. The announcement was declared by veteran Congress figure Harish Rawat.
“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,” Rawat tweeted.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. #CharanjitSinghChanni has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab.@INCIndia @RahulGandhi @INCPunjab pic.twitter.com/iboTOvavPd
— Harish Rawat (@harishrawatcmuk) September 19, 2021
Channi who is expected to take up the position of Chief Minister barely four months before the assembly polls would be the first Dalit CM of Punjab. Under the Amarinder Singh-led cabinet, Channi held the position of Minister of Technical Educational and Industrial Training
A member of the Ramdasia Sikh community, the 58-year-old has been elected thrice from the Chamkaur Sahib assembly constituency. From 2015-16, he also served as the leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly. Before the announcement of Channi’s appointment as the CM by Congress, rumours buzzed that the party would choose former state unit chief Sunil Jakhar, party veteran Ambika Soni or senior Congress leader Sukhjinder Randhawa for the CM post.
The political crisis in Punjab, which had been ongoing for the past five months, took a major shift on September 17th, when a legislature party meeting was arranged at short notice, allegedly without notifying Amarinder Singh.
Ahead of the MLA meeting held on September 18th, Amarinder Singh presented his resignation papers to the Governor. He addressed the press after the resignation, saying that he was “humiliated” by the Congress party.
“I have been humiliated for the third time in the past few months,” he told to the press, hinting at the two summons issued to him by the party high command in Delhi, and the CLP meeting arranged without consulting him.
However, Singh hinted that he would still remain active within the political sphere despite his age. “I am in the Congress party, will consult with my supporters and decide the future course of action,” he added.
Speaking to ANI, Singh said he will “never accept” his rival, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu as the next CM of Punjab. “Navjot Singh Sidhu is an incompetent man, he is going to be a disaster. I will oppose his name for the next CM face. He has a connection with Pakistan. It will be a threat to national security,” Singh said, indicating Sidhu’s connection with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.