Charanjit Singh Channi took oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday, 20 September, at a ceremony held at Chandigarh's Punjab Bhawan.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Navjot Singh Sidhu were also present at the oath-taking ceremony, as was the party's state in-charge Harish Rawat. The leaders joined Channi on stage after the ceremony reached its end.
— Congress (@INCIndia) September 20, 2021
Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni also took oath at the ceremony as ministers. They will be the deputy chief ministers in the government.
They were administered the oath by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
'Rahul Created History': Sidhu
Later on Monday, State Congress Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu praised the move by Rahul Gandhi and stated, Rahul Gandhi has created history (by making first Dalit, Sikh CM in Punjab). A wonderful person has assumed the office today. He has started working on matters of public interest. All issues including electricity bill waiver will be resolved," news agency ANI reported.
After a meeting between Punjab Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, CM Channi, Sidhu and working president Kuljit Singh Nagra, the newly appointed deputy CM added, "CM has said that he doesn't need much security, he will reduce it".
On being asked if newer names will be inducted in the state Cabinet, he responded that only the Congress top leadership and the CM knows about the names.
A formal Cabinet meeting is scheduled to be held at 8 pm on Monday.
'Punjab Govt Stands With Farmers'
Addressing his first press conference after taking over as the Punjab CM, Channi said, "Punjab government stands with the farmers. We appeal to the Centre to withdraw the three farm laws."
Calling Rahul Gandhi a revolutionary leader, Channi said: "The Congress party has elevated a poor man like me to a position where I never thought I could reach."
Channi said that his Cabinet will also take a decision on waiving water and electricity bills of the farmers and the poor.
"It's necessary that the electricity bills of farmers are waived. But the same motors that feed water to the poor, the costs of those also need to be waived. The water bills and the electricity that those motors consume will also be waived," he said.
"No poor will have to face power cuts just because they were unable to pay the electricity bill. All those whose electricity supply has been discontinued in the last 5-10 years because they were unable to pay their electricity bills will be restored," he said.
He also praised former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, saying that he did a lot of good work for the people of Punjab and that his work will be taken forward.
PM Modi Congratulates Channi, Mayawati Says 'Poll Gimmick'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Channi after the ceremony.
"Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji on being sworn-in as Punjab’s Chief Minister. Will continue to work with the Punjab government for the betterment of the people of Punjab (sic)," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, BJP general secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam censured the Congress party and stated, "This is an old habit of Congress. It believes it can capture Dalit vote bank by making a Dalit CM for a few months. A conspiracy is being hatched in Punjab to grab Dalit vote bank," news agency PTI reported.
Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji on being sworn-in as Punjab’s Chief Minister. Will continue to work with the Punjab government for the betterment of the people of Punjab.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 20, 2021
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati also congratulated Channi, but called it a "poll gimmick" by the Congress party.
"I congratulate Charanjit Singh Channi on becoming the chief minister of Punjab. It would have been better if he had been appointed as the CM earlier. His appointment as CM a few months ahead of Punjab assembly elections appears to be a poll gimmick," she said, as quoted by ANI.
Channi Offers Prayers Ahead of Oath-taking
Ahead of his oath-taking ceremony, Channi offered prayers at a Gurudwara in Rupnagar early on Monday.
Channi arrived at the Gurudwara Shri Katalgarh Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib accompanied by family members, reported ANI.
Channi's appointment was announced by state party in-charge Harish Rawat on Twitter on Sunday. Channi was unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab.
"We have presented our stance, unanimously supported by party MLAs, before the Governor. Oath taking ceremony to take place at 11 AM tomorrow," Channi said on Sunday, after meeting the Punjab governor.
Channi will be the first Dalit Chief Minister of the state. The 48-year-old was the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly during the Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali-BJP government.
(With inputs from ANI, India Today and The Indian Express)
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