New Delhi/Sept,20 : Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit Sikh, will be sworn in as Punjab’s new Chief Minister today after Amarinder Singh’s weekend resignation just months before polls in the state. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will attend the oath ceremony.
Earlier reports had said Rahul Gandhi would not attend the oath and that the ceremony would be small and restricted.
Channi, 58, is a three-time MLA and a minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet, known to be close to Punjab Congress Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
He was chosen after dramatic talks and negotiations on Sunday that saw at least two more candidates edged out of the race.
The Congress says he will have deputies from the Jat Sikh hopes his deputies will be from the Jat Sikh and Hindu communities, the party’s state-in-charge, Harish Rawat, said.
Mr Channi’s elevation is key given next year’s election and the fact Dalits are around 31 per cent of Punjab’s population. The Akali Dal (earlier in power in alliance with the BJP) has joined with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to tap Dalit votes.The Congress hopes Channi will counter that vote flow.