Charanjit Singh Channi To Be Next Punjab Chief Minister: 10 Points


New Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi, 58, is a three-time MLA from Rupnagar’s Chamkaur Sahib (File)

Charanjit Singh Channi – a Dalit Sikh and the outgoing Technical Education Minister – will be Punjab’s new Chief Minister, the Congress said, three days after Amarinder Singh’s resignation triggered drama in the poll-bound state.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Charanjit Channi, 58, is a three-time MLA from Rupnagar’s Chamkaur Sahib and will be sworn in as Punjab’s first Dalit Chief Minister 11 am Monday. His elevation is significant given next year’s polls and the fact Dalits are around 31 per cent of Punjab’s population. With Mr Channi as the Sikh Dalit face, his deputies may be from the Sikh and Hindu communities.

  2. The poll calculus behind the choice of Charanjit Channi appears simple. The Akali Dal (earlier in power with the BJP) has joined hands with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party to tap Dalit votes. Mr Channi as a Dalit + Sikh Chief Minister, the Congress hopes, will counter that.

  3. The Congress’ choice for Chief Minister may trigger criticism, given he was accused of sexual harassment by a woman IAS officer. Mr Channi allegedly sent an inappropriate text in 2018, but the officer never filed a complaint. The claim resurfaced in May after the state’s Women’s Commission sent a notice asking for the state government’s response.

  4. News of Mr Channi’s appointment came just a few hours after sources said another outgoing minister – Sukhjinder Randhawa – would be named to the top post. Mr Randhawa’s name met with some doubts and the Congress high command – keen to ensure the new Chief Minister has maximum support – switched tack.

  5. “I am happy with high command’s decision…. I want to thank all MLAs who supported me. Channi is my brother…” Mr Randhawa said after Charanjit Channi was announced as the Chief Minister. Mr Randhawa, 62 is the outgoing Jails and Co-operation Minister.

  6. Amarinder Singh has offered his “best wishes” to the new Chief Minister and a subtle reminder of the magnitude of his new task. “My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border,” he said.

  7. This morning’s meeting of the legislature party was postponed after Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni – believed to be the party’s first choice for Chief Minister – declined the offer. Ms Soni said “no” at a late-night meeting with Rahul Gandhi; she stressed on the “ramifications” of a non-Sikh Chief Minister, particularly with an election due.

  8. Yesterday Amarinder Singh said he had been “humiliated” and quit. His resignation followed months of sniping with rival Navjot Sidhu; the final nail in the coffin was Friday night’s meeting of Congress MLAs. Sources told NDTV around 50 of the party’s 80 MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi and asked for Mr Singh to be replaced.

  9. A furious Mr Singh told Mrs Gandhi he had had enough. “I was humiliated three times by Congress leadership…” he said. He wrote declaring himself “anguished” and defended his administration’s track record. The Captain also told NDTV that though he had resigned, “… for the sake of my country, I’ll oppose his (Navjot Sidhu) name…”

  10. The Singh-Sidhu feud dates to the 2017 election; Mr Sidhu hoped to be Deputy Chief Minister but was reportedly denied by Mr Singh. The rift escalated sharply in recent weeks and a tenuous truce unravelled after statements by Mr Sidhu’s advisers. Last month, fresh complaints against Mr Singh set the stage for the weekend’s drama.