The Congress on Sunday declared incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as the party’s CM face for Punjab Assembly elections. The announcement was made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ludhiana. He said, “Punjab people wish to have a Chief Minister from a poor family who could understand their grievances.”
Apart from Chamkaur Sahib, Channi is also contesting from Bhadaur Assembly seat. In Rahul Gandhi’s Jalandhar rally last week, Congress Pradesh Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu had said that Congress should declare a Chief Minister face. Both Sidhu and Channi had appealed to Rahul Gandhi to take a decision in this regard.
In his address in Ludhiana, Rahul Gandhi said, “Channiji is the son of a poor household. They understand poverty and have come out of poverty. He has Punjab in his blood. Punjab is also in Sidhuji’s blood. There is no ego in Channiji. He goes and meets the public in person. Modi, Yogi do not meet the public physically.”
He further said that it is the decision of Punjab. “We asked the workers, the candidates, the top leaders of the party. Everyone said that we need a CM from a poor background. Charanjit Singh Channi will be the CM candidate.” After this announcement, Channi thanked Rahul Gandhi and said that they would work together for Punjab.
According to political experts, that Channi is a Dalit and because Dalits constitute about 32% of the population in Punjab, his choice may help the Congress in getting their votes. Channi being a Ramdasia comes from the Sikh community. Channi has a good hold on the Sikh community along with the Hindu Dalits. By making Channi the CM face, along with the Dalit vote, the Sikh vote can also go to the Congress. At the same time, had Channi not been made the chief ministerial candidate, it could have been a direct impact on the Dalit vote.
All 117 seats of Punjab will go to polls in a single phase on 20 February. The counting of votes will be done on 10 March. Online enrolment facility has also been given to the candidates through Suvidha App.