New CM Channi promises thinner power bills, free water in election-bound Punjab

Asks Centre to withdraw farm laws | Randhawa, Soni Deputy CMs

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20

New Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who is the first Dalit leader to head the state, today invoked his humble beginnings to connect with the aam aadmi in the run-up to the 2022 Assembly elections early next year.

Editorial: Congress’ Dalit card

Eye on the vote bank, the new CM played his aam aadmi card, saying that the Congress had catapulted a common man like him from the underprivileged section of society to the top post in Punjab.

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Earlier in the day, the 58-year-old Channi was sworn in as the 16th Chief Minister of Punjab, along with his two deputies Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni, both from Majha, by Governor Banwarilal Purohit. The swearing-in, held at Punjab Raj Bhavan here, was attended by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu among others. Capt Amarinder Singh, who resigned as Chief Minister two days back, was conspicuous by his absence.

PM assures all help

Will continue to work with Punjab for betterment of people. — Narendra Modi, PM

The ceremony brought in an element of surprise as the name of Brahm Mohindra as Deputy Chief Minister was replaced with OP Soni’s just one and a half hours before the oath-taking. The decision of the party leadership to replace Mohindra, a senior Hindu leader, with another Hindu face, reportedly came after an objection by Sidhu, said sources.

In his first interaction with the media after taking over as Chief Minister, Channi, flanked by Sidhu and AICC Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Rawat, in an emotional speech, said “I am aam aadmi… this is the actual aam aadmi sarkar”, taking a swipe at the Aam Aadmi Party.

In the same breath, he asked the Centre to withdraw the three contentious farm laws, as he reiterated his government’s commitment to support the farmers against the central legislations.

Getting down to business on Monday soon after the swearing-in, Channi gave a stern warning to mafia, especially those involved in sand mining, thus addressing one of the core issues in the five-point agenda handed out by the PPCC chief to Capt Amarinder Singh government. The other issues include action on the 2015 desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and the police firing on protesters, arrest of the big fish in drug rackets, cancellation of power purchase agreements and rejection of the Centre’s new farm laws.

“I am a representative of the common man, the farmer and anyone who is oppressed. I am not a representative of the rich. Those who are into sand mining and other illegal activities, shouldn’t come to me.

I am not their representative,” said the new CM. In a conciliatory gesture, he mentioned his predecessor in the thanksgiving note: “Captain Amarinder Singh did a lot of good work for the people of Punjab. I will complete his unfinished work.”

Maintaining that the “government of the poor, for the poor and with the poor” would run in a transparent manner, the CM promised free water supply to smaller homes in rural and urban areas and reduction in power tariff. He also assured that the pending dues for water would be waived for the poor. Claiming that he would end corruption in government offices, Channi said: “Either corrupt officers will stay or I will stay.”

Cabinet mulls...

  • Pro-poor initiatives from October 2 to mark the birth anniv of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Construction of 32,000 EWS houses on priority; payment in instalments
  • Mining of sand by landowners to be allowed to abolish the contract system
  • Proposal in next Cabinet meet on raising free power units from 200 to 300
  • To waive electricity dues of tubewells; free water supply in rural areas
  • Proposal to cut domestic water and sewerage tariff in urban areas

Why caste factor now, asks Jakhar

PCC ex-chief Sunil Jakhar, in a veiled attack on those who scuttled the move to elect him as CM, said: “Why caste and religion were not considered when I was made the PCC chief?”

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