Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab Chief Minister
Charanjit Singh Channi today took oath as the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab. The swearing-in ceremony took place at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh, a day after his name was announced by the ruling Congress party for the post. Former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had stepped down over the weekend amid pressure from the party.
Channi has been assigned two deputy CMs. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni took oath for that post today. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attended the ceremony while Captain Singh chose to skip the event. The former CM has invited Channi for lunch at his farmhouse after the event, sources told the media, adding that some MLAs will also join them.
The announcement of Channi's name came as a surprise because several others were earlier considered favorites to become the CM. Senior leader Ambika Soni was reportedly the Congress' first choice. She, however, declined the offer, warning of the ramifications of appointing a non-Sikh CM. Sukhjinder Randhawa, now the deputy CM, was sidelined after state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu objected his promotion.
Channi, a three-time MLA, has become Punjab's first-ever Dalit Sikh Chief Minister. He has been picked keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly elections as Dalits form nearly 30% of the Punjab population. Further, the rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has teamed up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), hoping to gather the support of the community. The Congress is looking to counter that move.
In October 2018, a woman IAS officer had accused Channi of sending her an "inappropriate" text message. The case resurfaced earlier this year as Punjab Women's Commission sought a reply from the state government on the issue.
Captain Singh resigned on Saturday, following months of a bitter feud with Sidhu and his camp. After submitting his resignation, the two-time CM said he felt "humiliated," adding he would oppose Sidhu as the party's face in Punjab. He has also remained non-committal about his future plans. Reports say he may soon meet party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Punjab is set to go to polls in less than six months. Congress' Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat has said the party will contest that election under Sidhu's leadership, a comment that invited criticism from leaders within the party.
Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji on being sworn-in as Punjab’s Chief Minister. Will continue to work with the Punjab government for the betterment of the people of Punjab.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 20, 2021