English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Punjab Chief Minister Channi touches Sidhu’s feet showing the Punjab Congress chief may be down but not out

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi bowing to touch Sidhu’s feet just moments after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced him as chief ministerial candidate.

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh has lost the race to become the party’s CM face for the election campaign but he remains a strong force to reckon with as was reflected in Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi touching his feet on the stage at a public rally in full view of the public.

Videos have gone viral showing the Chief Minister bowing to touch Sidhu’s feet just moments after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced him as chief ministerial Following Channi’s “humble gesture,” Sidhu jubilantly raises the CM’s hand in the air assuring that both had accepted the high command's decision.

Channi after being pronounced as the CM face of Congress also went on to say that Sidhu's model of development will be implemented in case Congress forms the government.

The Congress has through the projection of Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit, as the Punjab Chief Ministerial face sent a clear signal to the scheduled caste voters in the state that the party stands for their empowerment. The Dalits account for a solid 32% chunk of votes in the state. 

However, at at the same time, the Congress has totally ignored the tainted image of Channi which hit headlines with the seizure of Rs 10 crore in an ED raid on the residence of his nephew in an illegal sand mining case.

The disenchantment of PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu will remain a hurdle in Congress' plan to capitalise on the Dalit vote. Sidhu though seemed to have accepted the verdict of the high command but he stood firm on the implementation of his Punjab model which advocates strong action against mining and drug mafias. "I will not be a showpiece," he said.

Experts say that with Channi's projection the Congress has managed to further its strategy to appeal to the shrinking SC support base not just in Punjab but also in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

In Punjab, the party is aiming at consolidating the Dalit vote bank given its 31.9 percent share in the state's population. Congress had won 23 reserved seats out of a total of 34 in 2017 elections recording a 10 percent drop in SC votes. In 2012 it had polled 51 percent SC votes but in 2017 it polled 41 percent of the Dalit votes. Nationally in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress managed 26 percent of the SC votes against 41 percent of the BJP led NDA.

Another factor that went in favour of Channi was that party leadership felt that the SC voters in the state had been feeling happy at the foisting of a Dalit as CM after the exit of Captain Amarinder Singh and now they could not be annoyed so soon. Besides, former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar expressed the opinion that the party should not change horses amidst the ongoing electoral war. Channi is the first Dalit CM of Punjab after the country gained independence.

Also, Channi's projection buttresses the narrative of Rahul Gandhi that Congress is a pro-poor party. Addressing the virtual rally at Ludhiana on Sunday Rahul said, "The workers, office bearers, youth, and Congress Working Committee members all favoured nominating someone from 'Garib ghar' as the CM face."

Channi's amiable style of functioning as was evident in his 111 days rule also helped him to win the tussle with PPCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu for the top post.

On the other hand, with the projection of Channi, Congress may lose the votes of the general category which may go to the BJP led three-party alliance. It cannot be said for sure whether Channi's projection as CM candidate will help the Congress to gain a majority by winning 60 seats in the 117 member Punjab Assembly.

Also read:  ED probe finds Punjab CM’s nephew linked to Rs 68 crore dubious deals