Congress leader Rahul Gandhi greets Channi in presence of Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Punjab Ministers OP Soni and Sukhjinder S Randhawa, at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on September 20, 2021. (ANI Photo) Image Credit: Twitter

Chandigarh: Newly sworn-in Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday urged the Centre to repeal farm laws, and said his party stands firmly behind farmers agitating against the “black” farm laws.

Thanking the party leadership, Channi told reporters here that the party has given a common person a great honour. He also described Rahul Gandhi as a “revolutionary leader”.

Channi, the first Dalit chief minister of the state, said he will become the voice of the common people of Punjab and will always remain accessible to the people.

‘Together, we have to make Punjab prosperous. Punjab is primarily an agrarian state. This government is a pro-farmer government, this is Congress government,’ he said.

Farmers in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have been protesting against three contentious farm laws. Several rounds of meetings between the Centre and farmer leaders have ended in a deadlock.

This government is of the people of Punjab, he further said, adding Congress’ ideology is to take everyone along.

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Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu and AICC in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat congratulates Channi in Chandigarh. Image Credit: ANI

On his predecessor, Amarinder Singh, Channi said he did good work as CM.‘He is also known as protector of water rights. He is our party leader,’ he said. The party high command has given an 18-point programme and we are committed to it, said Channi, adding promises made will be fulfilled. ‘We will ensure a transparent government,’ he said.

Earlier, Channi took oath of office along with his two deputies — one a Jat Sikh and another belonging to the Hindu community — at a simple ceremony here in the Punjab capital that was delayed for 20 minutes owing to late arrival of Gandhi.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O.P. Soni, both ministers in previous Council of Ministers led by Amarinder Singh, took oath for the posts of the Deputy Chief Ministers.

Gandhi reached the venue when the oath-taking ceremony was almost over. Former Amarinder Singh was conspicuously absent from the ceremony.

Amarinder Singh on Sunday greeted his 58-year-old successor, by saying, “My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border.”

Ahead of his oath-taking ceremony, the chief minister-designate on Monday morning paid obeisance at Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib at Chamkaur Sahib, his home constituency.

Channi was accompanied by his family.

Three-time legislator from the Chamkaur Sahib assembly constituency in Rupnagar district, Channi had joined the Congress in 2012 and was holding the portfolios of Technical Education, Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the outgoing cabinet.

The political tussle within the party has not ended with the announcement of Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab.

Former state party President Sunil Jakhar, who was in the race for the chief ministership, questioned the statement of Rawat for his state regarding party President Navjot Singh Sidhu.

“On the swearing-in day of Sh @Charnjit_channi as Chief Minister, Mr 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,” he tweeted.

Amarinder Singh on Saturday resigned from his post as the Chief Minister after months of political tussle, saying he stepped down as he felt ‘humiliated’.

At the same time, he said that the “future politics option is always there and I will use that option”.

Amarinder Singh also termed Sidhu as a ‘disaster’ who would not be acceptable to him as his successor.