Congress MLA Charanjit Singh Channi was on Monday sworn in as Punjab’s Chief Minister with his two deputies, OP Soni and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. The Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office to all three ministers at the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh.
Channi replaced Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned from the post of CM on Saturday after his with Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu. The development comes at a time when assembly elections are due in Punjab in the year 2022, just a few months later.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
However, the power transition will not be as smooth as it the party would hope and a tweet by a top Punjab Congress leader made it clear.
Hitting out at Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat for his comments in support of Navjot Singh Sidhu, the former Punjab Congress Chief Sunit Jakhar, who was briefly considered for the top post, said Rawat’s statement is baffling.
In a tweet, Jakhar wrote: On the swearing-in day of Charanjit Singh Channi as Chief Minister, Rawats’s statement that elections will be fought under Sidhu, is baffling. It’s likely to undermine Chief Minister’s authority but also negate the very raison d’être of his selection for this position.
Channi is the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab. The Congress is betting on the Dalit vote bank, constituting around 31 per cent of Punjab’s population. However, the community has never voted cohesively for any one leader in the past.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati congratulated Channi on becoming Punjab CM. The BSP supremo said it would have been better if he had been appointed as CM earlier. Channi’s appointment as CM a few months ahead of Punjab assembly elections appears to be a poll gimmick.
She also slammed Congress for not fully trusting Dalits. Referring to Rawat’s statement that Punjab Assembly polls 2022 will be fought under the leadership of Navjot Singh Sidhu, a non-Dalit, she said Congress is scared of the SAD-BSP alliance in Punjab.
In other India news, Charanjit Singh Channi has been seeking representation of Dalits in the Punjab Cabinet as they hold a high percentage in the party.