PUNJAB’S FIRST DALIT CM: A STEP FORWARD OR BACK FOR CONGRESS?

After Captain Amarinder Singh stepped down as the Chief Minister of Punjab citing that being summoned thrice in the previous two months has hurt his self-respect and made evident the distrust of higher command of the party in him, the new CM has been declared. Amid speculations that State Party Chief for Congress Navjot Singh Sidhu might be the next Chief Minister, it is Charanjit Singh Channi, a member of Punjab Legislative Assembly since 2007, who has replaced Captain. Belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Channi is the first-ever Dalit CM of Punjab. The discussions over how this aspect will play out in the upcoming state election for the party has already taken off.

Notably, the outgoing CM had conveyed his concerns over Navjot Singh Sidhu as his prospective replacement and requested the party to not choose him as he is close to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and has cordial relations with Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa, thus appointing him as the Chief Minister of the state that shares a 700 km border with the hostile neighbor can turn out to be fatal for the security of the state. While Sidhu hasn’t been chosen, Channi is his known loyalist. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was the other rumoured possible choice for the position has been quoted as saying that he is “not disappointed at all” and Channi is “like his younger brother”. Now with a Dalit Chief Minister, experts are believing that this may not play well for Congress in the next elections as this can have an impact for the worse on the Hindu voting community. Recently appointed Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit will be administering Channi’s oath today and all eyes will be on the outcomes of this political debacle thereafter.

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