Under attack over Rawat"s comments, Cong says both Channi, Sidhu to be faces in Punjab polls

  • | Monday | 20th September, 2021

New Delhi, Sep 20 (PTI) The Congress on Monday said it will fight Punjab elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and both will be "our" faces. The Congress went into damage control after it came under attack from various parties over the statement of its general secretary in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat that the party would go to polls with Navjot Singh Sidhu as it face. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the next Punjab assembly elections will be fought under the leadership of both Channi and Sidhu and attacked the BJP, Akali Dal, BSP and Aam Aadmi Party for insulting a Dalit chief minister. He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP leadership why they had not named any Dalit as their chief minister and why they and other leaders of BSP, AAP and Akali Dal were undermining the young Congress Dalit leader. "Our faces will be Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu as also ordinary Congress workers and leaders who will be supporting them. If anybody says one or the other will be the face, intentionally or otherwise, it is being misinterpreted by the media," he told reporters. "I want to tell all our friends in the media, please, you also do not grudge the young Dalit leader and the role assigned him as chief minister of Punjab. He will be our face along with Navjot Singh Sidhu which is natural," he said alleging that Rawat"s statement has been misinterpreted. "We urge the BJP, Akali Dal, BSP and AAP to stop insulting Dalits and spread lies about them," Surjewala also said. He alleged that the BJP, SAD, AAP and BSP have "unwarrantedly, shamelessly and regrettably" attacked the candidature of Channi. "May I ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi that you have been in power for seven long years and in a dozen states, have you ever appointed a Dalit as chief minister of BJP? No," he said, adding that Channi is the only Dalit chief minister sworn in by the Congress party. He claimed that the other two chief ministers of Congress are from backward classes in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where social justice has been ensured by the party. "We have a prime minister who only speaks, and we have the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi who deliver. That is the principal difference. "We would urge Narendra Modi ji, J P Nadda, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Arvind Kejriwal and Mayawati ji to not grudge the rightful due of a Dalit"s son who is today the chief minister of Punjab, and instead of shamelessly criticising him, they should hail his elevation," the Congress leader said. Various parties had attacked the Congress after Rawat"s remarks saying the grand old party is only doing tokenism. "It would have been better had Channi been appointed the chief minister earlier. His appointment as CM a few months ahead of Punjab assembly elections looks like a poll gimmick," BSP chief Mayawati said. "I also came to know from the media that the next assembly polls in Punjab would be contested under leadership of a non-Dalit. This means that the Congress still does not fully trust Dalits," she claimed. The Congress also come under attack from within with its former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar questioning Rawat over his statement. "On the swearing-in day of Charnjit Channi as chief minister, 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"être" of his selection for this position," he tweeted. Hours later, Surjewala said Channi is the chief minister and Sidhu is the organisation head of the Congress in Punjab, and the next elections will be fought under both of them. He claimed that the Congress has carved out a new chapter in India"s history with the swearing in of the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab. "It"s a matter of great pride for every young and old Congress worker, and every poor and disadvantaged (person) and Dalit of India that this singular decision will fortify social justice foundations in this country," Surjewala said. The Congress leader said Rahul Gandhi has always stated that he believes the doors of echelons of power need to be opened for the poorest of the poor and they must lead by the front and not be bystanders in the gallery, and that is what the Congress has proved. A person from the Dalit community, who rose from the most humble ranks, did manual labour proudly with his father, has today become the chief minister of Punjab, he claimed. "This proves that the Congress party has space for everyone, whoever you are, wherever you come from... the doors will always be open," he said. Surjewala also said the new chief minister and two deputy CMs have already sat down to take historical decisions. These decisions include the Congress already waiving domestic electricity bills of the poor for up to 200 units. Those living in small houses have been allowed the waiver of drinking water and sewerage bills, he added. In villages too, water bills have been waived after power bills, he said. "Our government will take historic decisions to ensure that social justice, equality and equanimity between all classes of people is restored totally," he claimed. Surjewala also thanked Amarinder Singh, saying he ably led the Congress government. "The magnanimity with which Singh came forward and congratulated and supported Channi proves his maturity as also establishes that we will continue to get his guidance and his experience in the days to come," he said.PTI SKC AAR AAR

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