Minutes after Charanjit Singh Channi was nominated to be the leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP), Captain Amarinder Singh said that he hoped that the first Dalit CM of the state will keep 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,” Singh was quoted as saying by Raveen Thukral, the Congress leader’s media advisor.
Amarinder Singh added that he was “sad at not being able to personally hand over job letters to the kin of 150 farmers who had lost their lives in the stir against farm laws” as he had promised in January. “Hope CM-designate Charanjit S Channi will do the needful at the earliest. I continue to stand with farmers in fight for justice,” he said.
Channi replaces Amarinder Singh, who had stepped down as CM on Saturday. A legislator from Chamkaur Sahib, Channi has been a CLP member and Leader of Opposition in the previous SAD-BJP government in the state.
Earlier today, 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.”
According to PTI, another senior leader, Brahm Mohindra, too welcomed the election of Channi, who is considered close to state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The 58-year-old Channi had been vocal in raising the Dalit issues in the state and had recently rebelled against Amarinder. He is considered close to AICC leader Rahul Gandhi and became the choice of the Congress high command for the post after two Jat Sikhs Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu opposed the party’s move to appoint a Hindu leader Sunil Jakhar.
On Saturday the Captain had written a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, hours before he formally resigned, stating that the political events of the last five months were clearly “not based on full understanding of the national imperatives of Punjab and its key concerns.”
At the same time, he expressed personal satisfaction at having done his best for the people as chief minister of Punjab which, as a border state, “has many geo-political and other internal security concerns, which I tried to handle effectively without any compromise”.