Charanjit Singh Channi, 58, was appointed as the new Chief Minister of Punjab, on September 19, a day after former CM, Amarinder Singh resigned with his cabinet of ministers due to certain Indifferences with the party leaders. Harish Rawat, Congress' state incharge in Punjab, announced Channi as the new CM, who previously served as the technical educational and industrial training in the current cabinet, and took oath as chief minister on September 20.However, here's what makes Charanjit Singh Channi an ideal candidate for the position, and was selected by the Congress to be Punjab CM, taking the state and it's citizens by surprise.
First Dalit CM
Unlike the previous CMs, who all belonged to the caste of Sikh Jats, Charanjit Singh Channi, who remains the three-time legislator from the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly Constituency in Rupnagar, is the very first Dalit chief minister of Punjab. Since Punjab is largely populated by Dalits, making it about 32 percent of the total population, and remains to be the highest of all states, choosing a Dalit CM along with Navjot Singh Sidhu, a Jat Sikh, as the state's unit chief, Congress has attempted to balance out the caste scale, a few months prior to the polls. According to reports, Rahul Gandhi was all up for a Dalit CM, and gave his final verdict on selecting Channi for the post. Out of 20 Dalit MLAs in the Assembly of 117 members, only 3 of them are serving in the cabinet, and Congress seems to be totalling counting on the Dalit vote bank to hold tight onto Punjab, which is significant as it is one of the three States governed by the party, after Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
Outwitting the opposition
This sudden and swift move by the Congress, seems to aim at it's oppositions, and with intentions of bypassing their election promises. The coalition of Shiromani Akali Dal with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have been making promises to appoint a Dalit deputy chief minister if they form the government in Punjab. On a similar note, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had also promised a Dalit chief minister for the state.
Acceptable leader for all factions of Congress
When Congress had proposed the appointment of Sunil Kumar Jakhar, a Hindu leader, to occupy the chief minister's throne in Punjab, several other leaders, including a member of parliament, Ambika Soni, expressed their disgrace and resentment towards this decision. Another senior leader, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was earlier one of the top choices for the CM position in Punjab and has now been appointed as the state's deputy chief minister, was also against a non-Sikh CM. Charanjit Singh Channi proves to be an acceptable leader by every faction of the Congress party and remains close to the ministers who began a rebellion against the former chief minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, who tweeted this decision to be "historic".