Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who appeared close to succeeding Amarinder Singh as chief minister, Friday dubbed Rahul Gandhi's move to choose Charanjit Singh Channi a "bold decision".
He also slammed the Congress' rivals for attacking the party over the choice of chief minister, saying they are missing the forest while counting trees in attributing political motives to the decision.
"What (former party president) Rahul Gandhi has done by choosing Charanjeet Channi as chief minister is that he has broken the barely perceptible 'glass ceiling'," Jakhar said in a statement shared on his Twitter handle.
Channi is the first Dalit chief minister of the state. "This bold decision, though very much rooted in the ethos of Sikhism, is nevertheless a watershed moment not only for the polity but also for the social fabric of the state," he said.
Jakhar's statement came two days after he accompanied Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on a flight to Delhi as they returned from the state.
Channi was sworn in as the chief minister of Punjab on Monday following unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh.
Jakhar, a Hindu face, was among the frontrunners for the post. However, the party leaders including Ambika Soni had suggested that a Sikh should be appointed.
Later, it was learnt that a "miffed" Jakhar turned down the offer of deputy chief minister post.
"Petty minded small people occupying high positions were trying to divide Punjab on the basis of race/caste/identities," he had then tweeted in the midst of speculations.
There are now muted talks that Jakhar may be rehabilitated with some post.
Jakhar on Friday said, "The warp and weft of this fabric is a complex interplay of aspirations and anxieties of all sections of society. This must be respected, maintained and nurtured as 'Raj Dharma' at all times."
He, however, said, "But there is clear and present danger of Punjabiat being put to test once again with usual divisive forces already weaponising this transformative initiative to fragment the society."
"This threat just cannot be wished away. Also coupled with this, if handled in inept and/or biased manner the prevailing robust brotherhood and amity, which has always been the pride of Punjab even in testing times, can be just as fragile and shatter just as easily as a 'glass house'," he stated.