Chandigarh: The Congress announced on Sunday that Charanjit Singh Channi has been elected as the leader of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party (CLP), paving the way for his appointment as the chief minister.
The development comes a day after Congress veteran Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister amid a bitter power tussle with state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu with less than five months to go for the Assembly polls.
“It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Sh. #CharanjitSinghChanni has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab,” AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said in a tweet.
According to an IANS report, the newly appointed leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) is meeting Governor Banwarilal Purohit to stake claim to form the new government.
Channi, who was the Technical Educational and Industrial Training Minister in the Amarinder Singh Cabinet, has been a critic of Singh for quite some time now.
The 48-year-old Channi has also been Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly during the Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali-BJP government.
This morning's meeting of the legislature party was postponed after Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni - supposedly the party's first choice to fill in Singh's shoes - declined the offer. Soni said "no" at a late-night meeting with Rahul Gandhi as she stressed on the "ramifications" of a non-Sikh chief minister, particularly with an election due, reported NDTV.
Later in the day, reports claiming selection of outgoing minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for the post of the CM had surfaced. However, according to an NDTV report, Randhawa's name met with some doubts and the "Congress high command - keen to ensure the new Chief Minister has maximum internal support - quickly switched tack".
"I am happy with high command's decision... I want to thank all the MLAs who have supported me. Channi is my brother..." Mr Randhawa said soon after Channi was announced to be the chief minister.