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Punjab Election 2022: Sidhu or Channi? Congress begins brainstorming session for CM face

The Congress has been putting its weight behind incumbent Channi, who belongs to the numerically dominant Dalit community in Punjab.

Punjab Election 2022: Sidhu or Channi? Congress begins brainstorming session for CM face-dnm
New Delhi, First Published Jan 31, 2022, 10:16 AM IST

Ahead of the Punjab Election amid uncertainty over Congress's Chief Minister face, the Congress has started discussions with party leaders and workers to zero in on a candidate for the February 20 elections. As per the latest reports, party Chief Sonia Gandhi has sought party members' response through the Shakti application.

Reportedly, amid the tussle between CM Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu, the former is leading the race. Congress has pitted Channi from two seats – Sri Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur, according to the Congress’ third list of candidates for Punjab Assembly elections.

While Chamkaur Sahib is a known turf for Channi as he has been representing the constituency since 2007, Bhadaur is uncharted territory for the party. In 2017, the Congress got only 20% votes.

With a raging Navjot Sidhu versus Charanjit Singh Channi rivalry threatening to hurt the Congress campaign for next month’s Punjab election, Rahul Gandhi, earlier this week, announced that the party will soon announce a Chief Minister candidate, adding that “two people can’t lead, only one can”.

Also, Channi is the only party candidate to have been fielded from two seats, in signals that the Congress wants to push the SC outreach, which, surveys say, is working.

SCs and STs have been a traditional vote bank of the Congress. However, the communities drifted away from the party following the emergence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and some other small groups in the state.

The Congress is now seeking to consolidate the SC vote bank, which comprises almost one-third of Punjab's population, by choosing Channi to replace former chief minister Amarinder Singh.

A three-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, Channi is the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab.

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