Chandigarh : Charanjit Singh Channi was sworn in as the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday, becoming the first Dalit chief minister of the state, months ahead of the next assembly polls.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered oath to Channi, along with Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni, who will be his deputies.
Channi was picked as the chief minister of Punjab months ahead of the assembly polls, after miffed Captain Amarinder Singh resigned following months of power tussle between him and state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Channi, 58, is a three-time MLA from Rupnagar’s Chamkaur Sahib and will be the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab. His elevation came after marathon meetings in Chandigarh and Delhi, and strong demand by a group of MLAs to pick a Dalit CM.
Among his first announcements after taking oath to the post, Channi said his government is “pro-farmer”, and urged the Union Government to withdraw the new Farm Laws.
“This a pro-farmer government… I appeal to the Union Government to roll back the Farm Laws. If famers are destroyed, Punjab, and the whole country will be destroyed,” he said.
Channi also announced a waiver of electricity and water bills for farmers, and said no power connections will be cut for non-payment of dues. He also promised restoring all connections that were discontinued due to pending bills.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the new Punjab Chief Minister shortly after he swore-in.
“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,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
Congratulations poured in from several Congress leaders, including former party president Rahul Gandhi who also reached the Governor House in Chandigarh and met the newly sworn-in leaders.
Taking to twitter Rahul Gandhi said, “Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji for the new responsibility. We must continue to fulfill the promises made to the people of Punjab. Their trust is of paramount importance,”.
Meanwhile, Randeep Singh Surjewala said that Channi’s appointment has created a new history as he is Punjab’s first Dalit CM.
“Let times record that this decision will singularly fortify social justice and open new doors of empowerment for our Dalit, Backward and disadvantaged brothers and sisters across India,” he said.