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Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab CM

Charanjit Singh Channi

Congress MLA Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab CM at Raj Bhawan/Image ANI

Chandigarh: Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi was on Monday sworn in as chief minister of Punjab. He is the first Dalit to hold this post in the state. Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered oath to Channi at a ceremony held at the Raj Bhawan. Channi took oath in Punjabi.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O.P. Soni, both ministers in previous Council of Ministers led by Amarinder Singh, took oath for the posts of the Deputy Chief Ministers.

Rahul Gandhi reached the venue when the oath-taking ceremony was almost over. Former Amarinder Singh was conspicuously absent from the ceremony.

In a tactical move to retain Punjab in the next Assembly elections in early 2022, the Congress on Sunday appointed Dalit leader and three consecutive term legislator Charanjit Singh Channi as the next Chief Minister, replacing veteran Amarinder Singh.

Channi, 49, a legislator from the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency in Rupnagar district is the the youngest to be at helm in the state. He belongs to the Ramdasia community. He joined the Congress in 2012 and was holding the portfolios of Technical Education, Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the outgoing cabinet.

Earlier, reports had suggested that Channi will have two Deputy Chief Ministers and they will take the oath of office on Monday along with CM. Former Chandigarh MP and AICCC treasurer Pawan Bansal in a tweet had mentioned about the appointment of sitting Cabinet ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Brahm Singh Mohindra as the deputies to the Chief Minister. Both of them are known for their proximity with outgoing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The new Chief Minister and his expected new Cabinet comes just months ahead of the Assembly polls in Punjab.

Ahead of his oath-taking ceremony, the chief minister-designate on Monday morning paid obeisance at Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib at Chamkaur Sahib, his home constituency. Channi was accompanied by his family.

With Channi's appointment, the Congress is trying to woo the Dalit vote, comprising 32 per cent, ahead of the Assembly polls slated in March 2022.

Channi, a Cabinet minister in the present government, was leading from the front to demand the removal of Amarinder Singh as the government in his helm has failed to come as per the aspirations of the people and even failed to implement the 2017 Assembly poll promises.

Outgoing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was among the first to greet Channi when party General Secretary in charge of state Harish Rawat made the formal announcement on his appointment in the evening, ending day-long suspense over the new incumbent.

Singh on Saturday stepped down as the Chief Minister by saying he "felt humiliated".

Meanwhile, the political tussle within the party has not ended with the announcement of Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab.

Former state party President Sunil Jakhar, who was in the race for the chief ministership, questioned the statement of Rawat on state party President Navjot Singh Sidhu.

"On the swearing-in day of Sh @Charnjit_channi as Chief Minister, Mr Rawat's statement that "elections will be fought under Sidhu", is baffling. It's likely to undermine CM's authority but also negate the very 'raison d'etre' of his selection for this position," he tweeted.

Quoting sources inside the party, IANS reports that that Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa's name was proposed by majority of MLAs but Rahul Gandhi decided in favour of Channi who was the leader of opposition for a brief period during the previous Akali government.

Apart from other names, Congress wanted even former Union Minister Ambika Soni to become the Chief Minister but she refused. However, she emerged as the main trouble shooter in the Punjab episode in the aftermath of the resignation of Amarinder Singh. Soni held late night meetings with party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at least twice and has some role in the appointment of the new Chief Minister. It was her statement in favour of a Sikh Chief Minister that went against the top choice, Sunil Jakhar.

Sensing Soni could be the Chief Minister, the state leaders made a consensus that the Chief Minister should be among the MLAs, and hence Randhawa's and Channi's names emerged but Rahul Gandhi who has special focus on Dalit leadership decided in favour of Channi.

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TAGS:Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi congress Punjab Updates 
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