Putting an end to all the speculations, Congress on Sunday announced Charanjit Singh Channi as the new Punjab Chief Minister. Channi will take the oath as the new Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday (today) at 11 am. Channi is considered close to cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat took to Twitter to announce the name of the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab.
"Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab," Harish Rawat tweeted.
Channi (58), a minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet, comes from the Dalit community. Channi's selection assumes significance as the dissension-riven Congress faces the Assembly polls in less than five months.
Channi met the Punjab Governor and staked claim to form a government, sources said, adding that Rawat and the party's central observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary accompanied him.
Amarinder Singh said he hopes that Channi is able to keep the border state of Punjab safe.
"My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he's able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border," he said.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was said to be the frontrunner for the post. However, after Channi's name was announced, Randhawa said, "I welcome the decision of the party high command."
"It's high command's decision..., I welcome it. Channi is like my younger brother...I am not at all disappointed," Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa told reporters.
Another senior leader, Brahm Mohindra, too welcomed the election of Channi, who is considered close to state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Early in the day, hectic talks were held to finalise the name of new leader of the CLP, a day after Amarinder Singh resigned as the chief minister amid a bitter power tussle with Sidhu.
Channi will succeed Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned as the chief minister of Punjab on Saturday following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The development comes a day after Congress veteran Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister amid a bitter power tussle with state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu with less than five months to go for the Assembly polls.
These development came months before the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections.
Humiliated' Amarinder Singh resigns as Punjab CM
Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday resigned as chief minister of Punjab and said he felt "humiliated" over the way the party handled the protracted crisis.
The 79-year-old Amarinder Singh, one of the Congress’ powerful regional satraps, put in his papers after speaking to party president Sonia Gandhi and shortly before a crucial meeting of the Congress Legislature Party(CLP) in Chandigarh in the evening.
He later launched a no-holds-barred attack against Navjot Singh Sidhu, describing his bete noire, a cricketer-turned-politician, as a "total disaster".
Besides Navjot Singh Sidhu, among the names doing the rounds as Amarinder Singh's replacement included former PCC chiefs Sunil Jakhar and Pratap Bajwa and state ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Bajwa.
Punjab always had a Sikh chief minister after the reorganisation of the state in 1966.
Congress sources said the party -- also battling dissensions in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where its governments are in power -- is trying to balance equations in the poll-bound state and is likely to appoint a Hindu face like Jakhar to the top post.