The announcement came as a surprise as it was earlier reported that the AICC had finalised the name of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for the post of chief minister.
Charanjit Singh Channi is the new chief minister of Punjab, state Congress in-charge Harish Rawat announced today after several rounds of hectic parleys held by the party high command to zero in on the successor of Captain Amarinder Singh, who stepped down as CM of Punjab on Saturday.
Confirming the news, Harish Rawat tweeted, “It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. #CharanjitSinghChanni has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab.”
“Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab,” Rawat said in another tweet. The state Congress in-charge said he will meet Governor Banwarilal Purohit at 6:30 pm today.
Congratulating Channi on becoming the chief minister, outgoing CM Amarinder Singh tweeted: “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.”
Channi was the Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha during previous SAD-BJP regime. The Chamkaur Sahib MLA was inducted as the minister in in the first Cabinet and was allotted the portfolios of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Training, and Tourism and Culture Affairs. He has been vocal against Amarinder for “not paying attention” to issues raised by party leaders.
The selection of Channi – a member of the Dalit community – is a clear indication of the party considering caste equations in view of the assembly polls in the state, which are less than five months away.
The announcement came as a surprise as it was earlier reported that the AICC had finalised the name of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for the post of chief minister. However, it is reported that the Navjot Singh Sidhu camp was unhappy over Randhawa being chosen for the coveted post, which forced the party to rethink on its decision.
Reacting to Channi’s elecition for the CM post, Randhawa said: “It’s high command’s decision, I welcome it. Channi is like my younger brother…I am not at all disappointed.”
Other names being considered as forerunners in the CM race included former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and current state unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu. While Jakhar’s name was opposed by the party MLAs themselves, the top leadership is believed to be reluctant in considering Sidhu for the CM post.
Hours before resigning as the Punjab chief minister on Saturday, Amarinder Singh wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, expressing anguish over recent developments and concern that they may cause instability in the state.
Congress veteran Singh resigned as chief minister of Punjab months ahead of the Assembly polls after a bruising power struggle with state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. After submitting his resignation to the Governor on Saturday, Singh said he felt “humiliated” over the way the party handled the protracted crisis.
The 79-year-old Singh, one of the Congress’ powerful regional satraps, had put in his papers after speaking to the party president and shortly before a crucial meeting of the CLP here on Saturday evening.