Congress leader Charanjit Channi was elected Punjab CLP leader on Sunday—ending hours of speculation about who takes over reins of the state government after Amarinder Singh.
“It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab,” Punjab Congress in charge Harish Rawat said.
Earlier in the day, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee had finalised the name of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as the next chief minister, sources had said. Other frontrunners for the top post after the resignation of Captain Amarinder Singh as Punjab CM on Saturday were Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Jakhar, PCC chief Pratap Bajwa, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni and state ministers Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Bajwa.
Just four months ahead of the assembly polls in Punjab, Congress veteran Amarinder Singh on Saturday stepped down as the state chief minister, citing "humiliation" after a section of MLAs sought a change in state leadership "for the third time in recent months".
CM Amarinder Singh's resignation came after a prolonged tiff with newly appointed Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, which led to factionalism within the Congress unit in Punjab.
This comes hours after rumours said Sukhjinder Randhawa had been elected Congress Legislature Party leader.
Channi is the MLA for Chamkaur Sahib.
Representing the dalit community, he belongs to the Ramdasia Sikh community and was appointed as cabinet minister in Capt. Amarinder Singh cabinet, Punjab on 16 March 2017 at the age of 47.
Third time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib Consistency & Minister of "Technical Education & Industrial Training" in the outgoing Capt. Amarinder Singh's Cabinet.
Charanjit Singh Channi has been chosen as the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab and in the political history of Punjab, it is the first time a Dalit has occupied the seat of the Chief Minister.
However, joining hands with Navjot Singh Sidhu, he has been in open revolt against Captain Amarinder Singh for the failure to fulfil the promises made in the run up to the 2017 polls.
With Punjab elections due to happen in the next 3-4 months, it will be an uphill task for the new CM face to contain the dissidence within the Congress party, especially the unhappy former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, an indefatigable old stalwart also known as the Maharaja of Patiala.
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