Chandigarh: Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi is sworn in as chief minister of Punjab, on Monday along with two deputies, OP Soni and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. He was administered the oath by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, in Punjabi language, at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh. 58-year-old Channi became the first Dalit to hold the head post in the state.
Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu were present at the oath-taking ceremony, but the absence of Amarinder Singh, who resigned as chief minister two days back, was noted. Rahul Gandhi congratulated Channi for the new responsibility, adding that they should continue to fulfill the promises made to the people of Punjab. Prominent people including PM Modi and BSP leader Mayavati, congratulated the new CM.
Channi, who served as Technical Education Minister in Captain Amarinder Singh’s cabinet, becomes chief minister with less than six months to go before the assembly polls in Punjab. His appointment will allow the party to play the Dalit card in the coming elections. An estimated 30 per cent of the state’s population, counting both Sikhs and Hindus, is from the Dalit community.
Channi, a close aide of State PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu, was one among the Cabinet ministers in the outgoing government, who rebelled against Capt. Amarinder Singh. He was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 2007, from Chamkaur Sahib Consistency for the first time, and later he won the assembly seat again in 2012 and then in 2017. In 2015, Channi was elected as Leader of the Opposition in the 14th Punjab Vidhan Sabha. In 2017, he was appointed as the Cabinet Minister holding charges of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Employment Generation along with Science and Technology.