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How the Stars Aligned: Channi & Sidhu Have More Than Astrology in Common

By: Swati Bhan

News18.com

Last Updated: September 20, 2021, 00:50 IST

Chandigarh

When Charanjit Channi walked out of the Raj Bhawan after meetign the Governor, he was accompanied by a beaming Navjot Sidhu. (News18)

When Charanjit Channi walked out of the Raj Bhawan after meetign the Governor, he was accompanied by a beaming Navjot Sidhu. (News18)

Sidhu wanted someone 'safe' who could be a facilitator and not a disruptor. Chhani fits the bill perfectly.

Soon after taking over as the PPCC Chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu had marked out one Dera (a sect) to visit – the renowned Sach Khand Ballan in Jalandhar, a Dera of the Ravidassia community revered by the Dalit community. In tow was 59-year-old Charanjit Singh Chhani, a close buddy who realised the importance of dera politics in the state.

Sidhu and Channi gel well and have several common interests. An interesting side to the political career of Chhani is his firm belief in astrology, something even Sidhu is fond of. The PCC chief wanted someone `’safe’ who could be a facilitator and not a disruptor. Chhani fitted the bill perfectly.

Not surprising then that Sidhu protested the name of Sukhjinder Randhawa vehemently even when it was almost finalised. He wanted his man to head the government. Channi, a three-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib constituency, had played a major role in the ouster of Capt Amarinder Singh, openly making statements against the government. So much so that he accompanied him almost everywhere Sidhu went after his appointment.

Sidhu, who had accompanied Channi to the Raj Bhawan on Sunday and couldn’t hide the triumph that beamed on his face, tweeted: “Historic !! Punjab’s first Dalit CM-Designate … Will be written with Golden letters in History. A tribute to the spirit of the Constitution and the Congress !! Congratulations.”

Channi has been by Sidhu’s side from the time the former quit his berth as a minister in the Captain-led government. At the first meeting of the dissenters which was held sometime in April at a private house in Panchkula, Channi was leading from the front and came to be known as the face of the rebellion against his own chief minister.

Channi, like Sidhu, has been very critical of the government’s inaction against the sacrilege cases in 2015, has remained critical of the Badals and is someone who has questioned the power policies of the Captain-led government frequently and publicly.

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Political observers say that this has been one of the biggest reasons why Randhwa’s nomination was cancelled at the last minute and Channi was chosen instead, essentially making Sidhu the de facto CM for the next five months.

With a 33 per cent Dalit population in the state and Punjab politics seen as Jat centric, observers say that the appointment of a Dalit to the topmost has given an interesting twist to state politics.

Channi will be the second Punjab chief minister from the Malwa region. Earlier, Giani Zail Singh after winning from Anandpur Sahib- Ropar assembly constituency remained chief minister from 1972 to 1977.

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first published:September 19, 2021, 20:55 IST
last updated:September 20, 2021, 00:50 IST