How much do you know the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab? This article takes a peep at the political journey of the new chief minister of Punjab.
Charanjit Singh Channi is the first leader of the Dalit community in Punjab who has got a chance to take over the responsibility of the Chief Minister of the state.
After the resignation of Captain Amarinder Singh, rumors were rife on the names of Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Jakhar, Ambika Soni and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for the post of Chief Minister from the Congress side. But the Congress High Command surprised everyone by announcing the name of Charanjit Singh Channi as the new Chief Minister of Punjab.
It is being said everywhere in the political circles that the Congress has tried to play the Dalit card four months before the Punjab Assembly, but this does not diminish the importance of the fact that this is a historic event in the politics of Punjab.
Charanjit Singh Channi, who became MLA for the third time from Chamkaur Sahib Vidhan Sabha, is a first generation politician. In the year 2007, Channi won the assembly elections for the first time and that too as an independent candidate. But former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh got him included in the Congress. He won the 2012 assembly elections on a Congress ticket.
Channi was the Minister of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Captain Amarinder Singh’s cabinet.
Channi’s family background
Charanjit Singh has three brothers- Dr. Manmohan Singh, Manohar Singh and Sukhwant Singh. Charanjit Singh Channi’s wife Kamaljit Kaur is a doctor and they have two sons.
Bal Krishna Bittu, a close confidant of the Channi family, told BBC associate journalist Pal Singh Nauli that his family owned a petrol pump and a gas agency in Ropar.
Channi’s father Harsh Singh had lived in Arab countries for a few years for livelihood. On his return to the country, he started the business of tent house in Kharar, Mohali.
Bal Krishna Bittu tells that during his youth, Channi used to help his father in his work and even after becoming the councilor of Kharar Municipality, he did not hesitate to set up tents.
His brother Dr Manmohan Singh told the BBC that Channi studied at Gurugovind Singh Khasla College in Chandigarh and then did his LLB from Panjab University. After this Channi studied MBA from Punjab Technical University.
Another close associate of Channi, Mukesh Kumar Minka, says that his interest in studies was so much that he was doing his PhD from Panjab University while he was a minister.
Charanjit Singh Channi stakes claim to form government before Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit
Channi’s Political Journey
The political journey of 58-year-old Charanjit Singh Channi began in the year 1996 when he became the chairman of Kharar Municipality. During this time he came in contact with senior Congress leader Ramesh Dutt. Channi was associated with Ramesh Dutt from his early days in politics. Although Channi was also in contact with Dalit Congress leader Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, but he could not get a ticket in the 2007 elections. Channi decided that he would contest the election from Chamkaur Sahib as an independent candidate and he won.
In 2012, when Captain Amarinder Singh gave him a ticket, he again won the assembly elections. From 2015 to 2016, he was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly after Sunil Jakhar.
Charanjit Singh Channi also made his way to the Congress High Command and it is believed that he has good relations with Congress leader Ambika Soni. Channi became a minister for the first time in Captain Amarinder Singh’s government after winning the 2017 elections.
Channi was also among those leading the voices raised about the unfulfilled promises of Captain Amarinder Singh’s government. It is said that Channi had also supported giving the command of Punjab Congress Committee to Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Channi was also among the ministers and MLAs of Punjab who went to Dehradun to meet state Congress in-charge Harish Rawat. According to the affidavit filed by Channi in the 2017 assembly elections, he had assets of about 14.53 crores at that time.
Chaney and Controversy
Along with the announcement of Channi’s name as the new Chief Minister of Congress in the state, a Punjab BJP leader mentioned a three-year-old case related to him on Twitter. In the year 2018, Channi was accused of sending ‘inappropriate messages’ to a woman IAS officer while she was a minister.
When this matter arose, the then Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh gave a statement, “When this matter was brought to my notice a few months back, I asked Minister Channi to apologize to the lady officer and the minister apologised. has been resolved.”
At that time, Channi had said in her clarification that the text message had inadvertently gone to the mobile number of the lady officer and now the matter has been resolved.