Newly-appointed Dalit-Sikh Chief Minister and Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi took oath of office along with his two deputies — one a Jat Sikh and another belonging to the Hindu community — at a simple ceremony here in the Punjab capital that was delayed for 20 minutes owing to late arrival of party leader Rahul Gandhi.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O.P. Soni, both ministers in previous Council of Ministers led by Amarinder Singh, took oath for the posts of the Deputy Chief Ministers.
Rahul Gandhi reached the venue when the oath-taking ceremony was almost over. Former Amarinder Singh was conspicuously absent from the ceremony.
Amarinder Singh on Sunday greeted his 58-year-old successor, by saying, “My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border.”
Ahead of his oath-taking ceremony, the chief minister-designate on Monday morning paid obeisance at Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib at Chamkaur Sahib, his home constituency.
Channi was accompanied by his family.
Three-time legislator from the Chamkaur Sahib assembly constituency in Rupnagar district, Channi had joined the Congress in 2012 and was holding the portfolios of Technical Education, Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the outgoing cabinet.
The political tussle within the party has not ended with the announcement of Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab.
Former state party President Sunil Jakhar, who was in the race for the chief ministership, questioned the statement of Rawat for his state regarding party President Navjot Singh Sidhu.
“On the swearing-in day of Sh @Charnjit_channi as Chief Minister, Mr Rawat’s statement that “elections will be fought under Sidhu”, is baffling. It’s likely to undermine CM’s authority but also negate the very ‘raison d’etre’ of his selection for this position,” he tweeted.
Amarinder Singh on Saturday resigned from his post as the Chief Minister after months of political tussle, saying he stepped down as he felt ‘humiliated’.
At the same time, he said that the “future politics option is always there and I will use that option”.
Amarinder Singh also termed Sidhu as a ‘disaster’ who would not be acceptable to him as his successor.