Can new Punjab chief minister help Congress maintain power?

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Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi with State Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu carry Palki Sahib to pay obeisance at Golden Temple, in Amritsar on Wednesday. (ANI)

Amarinder Singh says if Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is elevated to the post of Chief Minister, he would fight tooth and nail

Our Bureau
Chandigarh/New Delhi

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the selection of ministers for the new cabinet.

The meeting was held at Rahul Gandhi’s residence in the national capital. The meeting was held for at least 5 hours and got over at 2 am on Friday. Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat and party national general secretary KC Venugopal were present at the meeting.

Punjab CM along with Punjab president Navjot Singh Sidhu had met senior Congress leader Ambika Soni and KC Venugopal on September 20. Channi was sworn in as Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday. The three-time MLA from Rupnagar’s Chamkaur Sahib is the state’s first Dalit Chief Minister. On Sunday, after several rounds of parleys, Channi was selected for the post by the party high command, following Captain Amarinder Singh’s resignation.

Amarinder Singh on Saturday submitted his resignation to state Governor Banwarilal Purohit, following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

These developments came months before the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections.

Earlier, Channi on Thursday announced curtailment in his security cover. Asserting that he is a common man and brother of every Punjabi, the Punjab Chief Minister said that he has set the wheels in motion to end the VIP culture in government functioning for the benefit of people. “I am one of you and I don’t need an army of 1,000 security personnel to protect me from my own brethren,” Channi said.

The Chief Minister, during his address at IK Gujral Punjab Technical University, said that he was surprised to learn after assuming charge of his office that he has 000 security personnel to guard him.

Stating that it is a sheer wastage of government resources, he said this cannot be allowed. “What harm my own Punjabis will do to me as I too am a common man like them,” he said, according to an official release.

Channi also said that he is not a VIP and is “a normal Punjabi” and anyone can call him anytime on his phone as he is available for serving the people round the clock.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh speaks to the media after resigning as Punjab CM, in Chandigarh on Saturday. (ANI)

The Chief Minister said that overruling the rationale given by intelligence agencies regarding the threat to his life, he has asked the police to reduce his security.

Later, Channi along with his deputies Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Saini on Wednesday visited the Golden Temple in Punjab’s Amritsar to pay obeisance at Sri Darbar Sahib. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu was also present there.

Ahead of Assembly polls, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said that if Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is elevated to the post of Chief Minister, he would fight tooth and nail. “I will fight the elevation of Sidhu to Punjab chief ministership tooth and nail and am ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from such a dangerous man,” the Captain said.

Asserting that he will only leave politics when he feels it is right, the former Chief Minister said, “I was ready to leave after a victory but never after a loss,” he said. He disclosed that he had offered his resignation to Sonia Gandhi three weeks earlier but she had asked him to continue. “If she had just called me and asked me to step down, I would have,” he said, adding that “as a soldier, I know how to do my task.”

He said he had even told Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi that he was ready to allow someone else to take over as the Chief Minister after leading the Congress to another sweeping win in Punjab.

“But that did not happen, so I will fight,” he asserted, taking strong exception to being subjected to humiliation by calling a CLP in a secretive manner, without taking him into confidence. “I would not have taken MLAs on a flight to Goa or some place. That is not how I operate. I don’t do gimmicks, and the Gandhi siblings know that is not my way,” he said, adding, “Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi are like my children…this should not have ended like this. I am hurt.” He said the Gandhi children were quite inexperienced and their advisors were misguiding them.

Taking a dig at Sidhu’s ostensible interference in Charanjit Singh Channi’s domain, the former Chief Minister said the PPCC should just take decisions on party affairs. “Earlier I had a good PPCC president. I took his advice but he never told me how to run the government,” he said, adding that Sidhu was virtually dictating terms with Channi simply nodding along.

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