Congress's Charanjit Singh Channi, on Monday, September 20, took oath as the 16th chief minister of Punjab, replacing his predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh after days of political turmoil within the party's state unit.
The newly appointed CM has promised to stand with farmers and appealed to the Centre to withdraw the farm laws, The Indian Express reported.
"I will sever my head but I won't let any harm come to the farmers," Channi said. "We have to strengthen Punjab. It is a state of farmers. I appeal to the Centre to withdraw the farm laws," he added.
The First Dalit CM Of Punjab
Channi is the first person from the Dalit community to hold the CM's post. He took the oath in Punjabi at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu were also present at the occasion. Along with Channi, Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Amritsar central MLA Om Prakash Soni took oath as Deputy Chief Ministers.
Channi also stated that the electricity will be made cheaper in Punjab and "any dues for last five years towards power bills will be waived off today itself." Besides, he is set to take a decision on the sand mafia.
Prior to becoming the CM, the three-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib was the state's Technical Education and Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Science and Technology minister.
Who is Charanjit Singh Channi?
- Channi was born in Punjab's Bhajauli village near Kurali in 1963. The 58-year-old Dalit Sikh leader has grown from the ranks, and he believes his strength lies in his connect with the masses.
- He is known to drive his car often himself and pay the toll tax. So, there was no surprise seeing him on a motorcycle driven by Sunil Jakhar, former PPCC chief, on their way to Punjab Bhawan on Monday, September 20.
- The newly appointed CM beat the likes of Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Jakhar and Ambika Soni to take charge of the top post. Soni was said to be the first choice for the Chief Minister post.
- He was one among the four ministers who met Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat in Dehradun. Besides, he chose to participate in the virtual Cabinet meet thanking the CM for taking steps for the Scheduled Caste students. Channi continued to rally support against Amarinder and was one of the signatories to the letter calling for a CLP meet that precipitated Amarinder's exit.
- In 2007, he was selected to the state assembly. Prior to this, he served as the president of the municipal council in Kharar for two terms. He was also the leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly in 2015-16. In March 2017, he was appointed as a minister in the Amarinder Singh-led government.
- During his tenure as a minister, he was accused of sending an "inappropriate" text to a woman IAS officer in October 2018. However, the minister had later apologised and the matter was sorted.