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58-year-old Charanjit Singh Channi becomes the16th CM of Punjab

58-year-old Charanjit Singh Channi becomes the16th CM of Punjab
Charan Jeet Singh Channi has become the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab, the first scheduled-caste Chief Minister in the state.

 The Congress leadership is hopeful of gains from this move in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

BSP chief Mayawati, a four-term Dalit Chief Minister of the state, while congratulating Channi also trained guns on Congress for this last-minute decision. Mayavati said that "it looked like a political gimmick". She also expressed confidence that "Dalits will not fall for such a stunt".

Channi, close to Sidhu, was among the four ministers – Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria – who had raised a banner of revolt against the Captain last month and had met Rawat seeking the CM's replacement.

Along with Channi, who is considered close to Sidhu, two more leaders -- Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa from the dominant Jat community and OP Soni, a Hindu leader, were also sworn in. Both of them have been designated Deputy Chief Ministers.

All three were administered oath to office by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit at a ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan here. 

On Sunday, Channi had met Governor Banwarilal Purohit to stake claim to the top job after being elected as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party a day after the resignation of Captain from the Chief Minister's post.

Soni appeared in another last-minute choice in which Sidhu had a role. Earlier the party had decided on Brahm Mohindra.

Senior party leader from Punjab and Congress treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal had in fact tweeted on Sunday night "heartiest congratulations" to Channi for his elevation as CM and Randhawa and Mohindra as Dy CMs, wishing them "best wishes for their grand success in the service of Punjab" under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

On Monday morning after the oath ceremony, he corrected it tweeting his "regrets for yesterday’s tweet, based on incorrect information" and wishing "heartiest congratulations to Soni for taking oath as Dy CM with Channi and Randhawa saying Punjab Congress "emerges stronger".

Both Mohindra and Soni were supporters of Captain Amarinder.

That Channi's appointment as CM created quite a ripple was evident as the BJP, which was promising to make a Dalit Chief Minister in the state if it was voted to power, vacillated between congratulating Channi to castigating him, latching on to issues like #MeToo.

BJP also latched on to comments of AICC in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat about Sidhu being the face of 2022 Punjab polls, calling it an "insult" to Dalits.

"This is a huge insult to the entire Dalit community if Charanjit Singh Channi has been made the CM, only to hold the seat for Navjot Singh Sidhu, the chosen Gandhi family loyalist. This completely undermines the Dalit empowerment narrative being peddled by Congress. Shame, " BJP IT department head Amit Malviya said, sharing a screenshot of former Punjab state chief Sunil Jakhar, who found fault with Rawat's remarks saying this negates the very purpose of his selection.

Jakhar's nephew Ajay Vir Jakhar on Twitter announced his resignation from the post of Chairman, Punjab State Farmers and Farm Workers Commission "due to the changed circumstances in the state".

At the height of Captain-Sidhu rivalry, party MP from Punjab Manish Tewari had talked about the community dynamics of Punjab politics in a tweet saying while Sikhs comprise of 57.75 per cent of electorate, Hindus are 38.49 while Dalits, who are found among both are 31.94 per cent.

Manish Tewari in his tweet said Punjab was “both progressive and secular” where Sikhs formed 57.75 per cent, Hindus 38.49 per cent, and Dalits — who have presence across beliefs — 31.94 per cent of the population. Meanwhile Jakhar tweeted Channi's words from Sunday saying that 'Being a Hindu or Sikh is secondary'

Congress is trying to work out a social combination of Dalit, Jat Sikh and Hindu voters ahead of the state polls.