Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], September 20 (ANI): Even as Charanjit Singh Channi took oath as Punjab Chief Minister on Monday following the Congress leadership's decision to elevate him as leader of Congress Legislative party, the turmoil in the state unit of the party seems far from over.
Earlier today former state Congress president Sunil Jakhar expressed his disagreement over remarks of senior party leader Harish Rawat on the day of swearing in about facing the upcoming Assembly election under the leadership of Navjot Singh Sidhu instead of the first Dalit Chief Minister Channi.
Hours before Channi's swearing-in, Jakhar, who made way for Navjot Singh Sidhu as PCC chief in July, took to Twitter and said he was baffled to hear Rawat's remarks which is likely to undermine the authority of Chief Minister.
"On the swearing-in day of Charanjit Channi as CM, Rawat's statement that 'elections will be fought under Sidhu', is baffling. It's likely to undermine CM's authority but also negate the very 'raison d'etre' of his selection for this position," Jakhar said in a Tweet.
Jakhar's reaction came after Congress' Punjab incharge Harish Rawat, after declaring Channi as CM-designate on Sunday said, that the upcoming state assembly elections will be fought under Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu who is "very popular", given the state's present political circumstances.
Speaking to ANI here today, Rawat said, "It (Congress face for upcoming state assembly polls) will be decided by the Congress president, but given the circumstances, elections will be fought with the Chief Minister's cabinet under Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, whose chief is Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is very popular."
Rawat also said that Congress had on Saturday itself unanimously decided to make Charanjit Singh Channi the next Chief Minister of Punjab.
Punjab Congress leaders ANI spoke to backed the choice of chief minister but did not comment on the leadership issue.
"I cannot comment on his statement, but Jakhar is an honest politician," former leader of Opposition of Punjab Assembly and Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira said.
"There is around 33-34 per cent Dalit vote in the state. The move (to name a Dalit Chief Minister) will strengthen the party. The decision is also in line with the teaching of Sikh religion," he added.
Congress leader Mohinder Singh Kaypee also appreciated the party's decision. "Other parties wanted to make Dalit Chief Minister a poll plank. Congress took action and gave a chance to a Dalit leader to be the Chief Minister," he said.
Congress leader Harminder Singh Gill refused to comment on Jakhar's tweet.
"Only he (Sunil Jakhar) can comment on the statement he has made. This decision (Charanjit Channi as CM) is party high command's decision not just Harish Rawatji's decision."
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Friends of the media are under the illusion. For God's sake, stop attacking Sardar Channi, a young Dalit fellow. Charanjit Singh Channi will be our face as CM while Sidhu will be face as state president."
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni were sworn as Deputy Chief Ministers on Monday with the Congress trying to stitch a winnable caste combination ahead of the crucial assembly polls due next year. (ANI)