Why Punjab’s CM ‘Masterstroke’ Charanjit Singh Channi is racing against time to prove himself
Charanjit Singh Channi, the “masterstroke” of Congress as Dalit Chief Prime Minister of the Punjab in place of Captain Amarinder Singh, will he prove to be the party’s trump card in the legislative elections of 2022? It’s hard to say.
With Congress making Channi the chief minister, the play of the caste equations of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been disrupted.
Channi, who comes from a poor family, participated in a large awareness program among poor sections of the state. In fact, in the first 50 days he personally met more people from underprivileged sections than any other MC perhaps has in the same period.
Channi also tries to undermine the polls offered by the AAP and the SAD. For example, against the election promises of the Aam Aadmi party and Shiromani Akali Dal – to provide 300 to 400 units of free electricity, Channi reduced the electricity tariff by Rs 3 per unit for 69 lakh out of 71.75 lakh national electricity consumers of the state.
He extended the cost allowance (DA) from 11% to 7.5 lakh state employees and retirees. On Diwali Day, he handed over house keys to more than 8,000 poor families who previously lived in slums. With only about 50 days left in the implementation of the electoral code of conduct, Channi is trying to present himself as the chief minister of the ordinary person.
According to senior journalist Baljit Singh Balli, a political analyst who has followed Punjab politics for the past four decades, believes Congress could have faced a wave of anti-nomination in the 2022 parliamentary elections under Amarinder Singh as than CM.
However, things develop differently for the party with Channi in charge. The party also hopes that with Channi as CM, he will gain the support of the Dalit community in the 37 seats where the community rules in the region of Doaba and Majha.
Since the separation of Haryana from Punjab in 1966, with the exception of Giani Zail Singh (OBC), all Chief Ministers of Punjab Pratap Singh Kairon, Parkash Singh Badal, Darbara Singh, Beant Singh, Harcharan Singh Brar, Rajinder Kaur Bhathal and Captain Amarinder Singh came from the Jatt Sikh community. But with Channi’s rise as CM, many Jatt Sikh leaders inside and outside Congress are apparently unable to accept Channi as their leader.
On this big change in Punjab politics, former Punjabic congressman HS Hanspal said the transformation of the Punjab government “from a luxury farmhouse to a modest tent house”. Even today, many elderly people in Kharar (Mohali) remember how Charanjit Singh Channi helped install awnings in their families’ wedding functions.
Sharing many moments of his life, Charanjit Singh Channi, at his first press conference after taking the oath of office as Chief Minister, became moved when he recalled how as a child he went door to door with awnings, chairs and rickshaws from his father’s tent. There would hardly have been such a house of Kharar that did not help in times of need. He was able to meet the school fees for the year thanks to the fireworks he sold in front of the same blind store on the occasion of Diwali.
Channi’s challenges inside and outside the party over the next 50 days are considerable. The President of the Punjab Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who dreams of becoming the next Chief Minister of the Punjab in 2022, is currently not ready to give up his role as Super WC. Sidhu, who questioned the first 50-day term of the Channi government over the intoxication and sacrilege issue of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, who is pending in the High Court, said: “The Channi government does not failed to properly defend the issue of sacrilege in the Punjab Haryana High Court.
Sidhu targeted Channi’s appointments in the form of state attorney general APS Deol and Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, acting director general of police. Sidhu, who has been shouting for the interests of the Punjab, however withdrew his resignation as head of the party’s state unit.
Former Punjabian Congress President Sunil Jakhar, who described Charanjit Channi as Rahul Gandhi’s masterstroke, also changed his tone. Jakhar said: “While other parties are busy preparing for the 2022 elections, there is an atmosphere of lawlessness in the Punjabi Congress. The party chairman hits the government of his own party. Congressional leaders target their government more than any opposition party.
The Punjab Congress is in a state of disarray following the removal of Captain Amarinder Singh from the post of CM. And the aspiration of the leader of the Punjab Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, to become chief minister is not hidden. As the confrontation between Channi and Sidhu escalates, congressmen are worried about their parliamentary election tickets and the party’s prospects.
How Channi reassures them of his leadership in conflict situations and neutralizes the influence of the Captain’s Punjab Lok Congress, will determine the electoral future of Channi and Congress.