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The Congress party has elected Charanjit Singh Channi, the outgoing technical education minister, as the new chief minister of Punjab after Captain Amarinder Singh resigned from the post on Saturday. 

“It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab," said AICC general secretary and Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Rawat in a tweet. 

Channi will succeed Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned as the chief minister of Punjab on Saturday following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

“My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he is able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border," said Amarinder Singh after Channi's election. 

The development comes less than five months before the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections.

Channi is a three-time MLA and the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab. He has also been the former leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly. He represents the Chamkaur Sahib constituency.

His selection assumes significance as the BJP had earlier announced that if voted to power in Punjab, it will make a Dalit the chief minister, while the SAD, which is fighting the coming polls in alliance with the BSP, had said that its Deputy Chief Minister would be from the Dalit community.

Earlier in the day, some Congress legislators had said that outgoing cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa was a frontrunner in the CM race. 

Congress MLA Pritam Kotbhai, while addressing the media in Chandigarh, said that all MLAs in Punjab have named Sukhjinder Randhawa for the chief ministerial post before Congress high command. "He will become the Chief Minister," said Kotbhai.

However, Randhawa, the jails and cooperation minister in the outgoing cabinet, had said earlier on Sunday that he or his family "never hankers for any post".

After the announcement of Channi's name as the new CM, Randhawa said: “It is high command's decision. I welcome it. Channi is like my younger brother. I am not at all disappointed."

Reports on Saturday had claimed that names of former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Ambika Soni and Vijay Inder Singla were also doing rounds to replace Amarinder.

But Soni on Sunday said she had declined the offer as she feels that a Sikh should occupy the top post in the state. She met Rahul Gandhi at his residence for further discussions on the new chief minister.

 

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