On Monday, Charanjit Singh Channi was sworn in as Punjab’s 16th chief minister, making him the state’s first Dalit leader.Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Congress chairman Navjot Singh Sidhu, and other politicians attended the swearing-in event at Governor’s House in Chandigarh.
Channi prayed at a Gurudwara in Rupnagar earlier today before his oath-taking ceremony. Sunil Jakhar, a Congress politician, questioned Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat’s remark that the party will fight elections under Sidhu only hours before the event.”Mr Rawats’ remark on Charnjit channi’s swearing-in day as Chief Minister that “elections will be contested under Sidhu” is perplexing. “It’s not only likely to weaken CM’s authority, but it also calls into question the fundamental ‘raison d’être’ (reason or justification for existence) of his appointment to this position,” Jakhar said on Twitter.Channi was chosen as the Punjab Congress Legislature Party’s (CLP) Leader on Sunday.
Harish Rawat, the Congress incharge of Punjab, tweeted, “It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform that Charanjit Singh Channi has been overwhelmingly chosen as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab”. Channi met with the Punjab Governor soon after the announcement and asserted his claim to form a government. Channi’s appointment was hailed by Amarinder Singh.With only a few months till the Assembly elections, Congress’ choice is significant, as Dalits account for around 30% of the state’s population.
Channi, a three-term lawmaker from Rupnagar’s Chamkaur Sahib assembly seat, joined the Congress in 2012. In the departing Amarinder Singh-led ministry, he handled numerous ministries, including technical education.The Congress party was shaken by bitter infighting as the election approached.Cricketer-turned-politician and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh were at the centre of the controversy, openly exchanging insults. The dispute among the Congress’ Punjab branch had reached a stage where Amarinder Singh could no longer continue. On Saturday, he finally stepped down.Amarinder Singh expressed his personal grief over political developments in the previous five months in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and expressed concern that the high command’s action may cause instability in the state. Singh stated that he was quitting because he had been humiliated.The Congress was formerly thought to be in the driver’s seat to maintain power in the forthcoming elections, but recent events have divided experts, who are split on the party’s chances moving ahead. Some speculate that the Dalit nominee was chosen by Congress to keep Sidhu in control and to mitigate the impact of Amarinder Singh’s resignation. Others regard it as a major setback for the party, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) benefiting at their price.