Chandigarh : Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab’s first ever Dailit CM, took oath of office in a low-key event held 11 am at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh today. The governor Banvarilal Purohit administered the oath. Present at the function were Punjab Congress in-charge, Harish Rawat and state unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu. However, former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh kept away from the event, signaling his continued resentment with the party leadership.
Amarinder Singh had resigned from CM’s post on Saturday after months-long tussle with Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu. Punjab is one of the last three states with Congress government in power. Singh had resigned from what he described as humiliation from doubts raised by Congress’s central leadership over his capabilities to run Punjab.
Channi was elected from Chamkaur Sahib constituency. He served as Telecom Minister in Amarinder Singh’s cabinet. The PCC president Navjot Singh along with Singhu played key role in dislodging Amarinder. By instating Charanjit Singh as CM, Congress is calculating to sway Dalit votes that account for 35 percent of the population. Punjab is due for polls early next year meaning Channi government is valid for four months in all.
Senior Congress leader and former PCC President Sunil Jhakar was forerunner in the race to succeed Amarinder Singh and was initially considered for the top post. However, seniors including Ambika Soni opposed appointing of a Hindu Jat as CM, following which, former Chief Minister Sukjinder Singh was considered for the post. However, with indications emerging of likely clashes over the choice, the High Command finally decided to appoint Chranjit Singh Channi.