Charanjit Singh Channi to be next CM of Punjab
Congress' Dalit face Charanjit Singh Channi was elected the leader of the Congress Legislature Party in Punjab on Sunday and will be the next chief minister, succeeding Amarinder Singh who resigned a day ago following a bitter power tussle in the party.
AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said in a tweet, It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. #CharanjitSinghChanni has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab."
Channi (58), a minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet, comes from the Dalit community.
Channi's selection assumes significance as the dissension-riven Congress faces the Assembly polls in less than five months.
The BJP had earlier announced that if voted to power in Punjab, it will make a Dalit the chief minister, while the SAD, which is fighting the coming polls in alliance with the BSP, had said that its Deputy Chief Minister would be from the Dalit community.
Channi met the Punjab Governor and staked claim to form government, sources said, adding that Rawat and the party's central observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary accompanied him.
Amarinder Singh said he hopes that Channi is able to keep the border state of Punjab safe.
"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.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was said to be the frontrunner for the post.
However, after Channi's name was announced, Randhawa said, "I welcome the decision of the party high command."
Another senior leader, Brahm Mohindra, too welcomed the election of Channi, who is considered close to state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Early in the day, hectic talks were held to finalise the name of new leader of the CLP, a day after Amarinder Singh resigned as the chief minister amid a bitter power tussle with Sidhu.
Rawat, Maken and Harish Chaudhary who have been camping at a hotel here held discussions with the MLAs and took their feedback.