May 12, 2021 8:58:59 am
In the backdrop of a banner of revolt being raised by several ministers and MLAs, Punjab Technical Education Minister Charanjeet Singh Channi on Tuesday flexed his muscles as he put up a show of strength by organising a meeting of Dalit MLAs at his residence in Chandigarh.
The meeting comes after a series of meetings between Cabinet ministers, MLAs, Rajya Sabha MP and Lok Sabha MP. As many as 10 MLAs, including Women and Child Development Minister Aruna Chaudhary, Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Dr Harjot Kamal, Santokh Singh Bhalaipur, Nirmal Singh Shutrana, Joginder Singh, Balwinder Singh Laddi and Dr Raj Kumar Verka, attended the meeting.
After the meeting, Dr Verka said that there were several demands of the Dalit MLAs of the party and they had sought time from the Chief Minister for a meeting.
Channi told the MLAs in the meeting that he had written a letter to the Chief Minister on May 3, but had not received any reply. He handed over copies of his letter to the MLAs.
In the letter Channi writes that he had raised the issues of Dalits in several Cabinet meetings but his concerns went unheeded. Channi has also stated that he was sad to tell the CM that the concerns of Dalits were not addressed by the government led by the CM.
In the letter, Channi has also raised several issues like reservation for Dalits in contractual hiring of employees, reservation in government jobs in proportion of population, debt waiver for economically weaker sections on lines of farmers, implementation of 85th amendment, representation of SCs in high government posts, implementation of post matric scholarship scheme and others.
All eyes were on the meeting of Dalits and Backward Class MLAs as Dalits constitute 31.9 per cent and backward classes constitute 18 per cent of the Punjab’s population. All the political parties have been trying to appease the Dalits and Backward Classes. The BJP has been saying that whoever gets the Dalit votes will win the next election in Punjab. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has been trying to have an alliance with BSP. The BJP appointed a Punjab leader, Vijay Kumar Sampla as the chairman of national commission of SCs.
While the meeting had 11 Dalit leaders, the Chief Minister’s camp said it was not worried.
“Aruna Chaudhary had to go to Channi’s residence as she is related to him. A few other Dalit MLAs swear by the CM. You can well imagine what their presence meant over there,” said a source.
However, there is another set of leaders who believe that Channi was flexing his muscles being a Dalit leader as the SAD had already announced that a Dalit will be the Deputy CM of the state if SAD is voted to power.
“In this scenario, the Congress too would have to promise a top position to a Dalit leader and Channi is thinking he may fit the bill,” a party leader said.
The meeting came after a meeting between Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who buried their hatched. Later, Randhawa and Channi met Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa and LS MP Ravneet Bittu.
Meanwhile, Sidhu kept the heat on with another tweet and a video from 2018 in which he is seen meeting the victims of Behbal Kalan firing: ‘’People of Punjab demand Justice in One Voice!! 2018 – Meeting with Rupinder Singh and Jasvinder Singh, the innocent victims of police brutality under Badal regime along with my party colleagues. Alas! We are all still awaiting justice.”
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