Common man’s CM, Channi takes centre stage

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

From joining youngsters at a college for an impromptu bhangra to stepping out of his cavalcade to greet a newly wed couple and visiting families of farmers, who lost their lives during the ongoing agitation against the controversial farm laws, Punjab’s new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has stamped his image as the common man’s CM within days of taking charge. The change is in sharp contrast to that of his predecessor, Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh, scion of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, who was often accused of adopting a ‘royal’ style of working.

On the day he assumed the charge, Mr. Channi conveyed unambiguously that his government is of the poor, for the poor and with the poor, and the new government will be responsive to the problems of the common people. In a little over ten days since then, he has lived up to that promise.

Following reports of an attack of pink bollworm on cotton crop, Mr. Channi along with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa travelled to the cotton belt in the Malwa region to survey the affected fields and promise help to the farmers. And it was during the visit that he spotted the newly-weds at Mandi Kalan village and stopped his vehicle to convey his wish to them.

Apart from his public outreach, the soft-spoken Chief Minister, who initially was “over shadowed” by presence of controversial State Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, giving an impression that he could be a mere “rubber stamp”, is seen to have established himself as an assertive leader. And in the process, he has put to rest of all likelihood that Mr. Sidhu would be a “super CM”.

Asserting his choice of senior government officials in appointment, including the State’s Advocate General and Director General of Police (additional charge) had underlined the growing self-belief of the Chief Minister, who is learnt to enjoy strong backing of party’s central leadership. The decisions eventually led to Mr. Sidhu submitting his resignation as party chief.

And even as that resignation and Capt. Amarinder’s decision to quit the Congress plunged the Congress deeper into crisis, Mr. Channi has exhibited complete composure and control; at no time in has he given the impression that the situation was out of control. In fact, he firmly conveyed to a miffed Mr. Sidhu that while he is willing to talk and resolve issues, the Congress and its ideology are paramount and the government is committed to that.

Party’s increasing confidence in Mr. Channi can be gauged from the fact that instead of rushing a senior leader from the high command, the central leadership asked him to resolve the situation.

And while dealing with the party chaos, the Chief Minister has been busy in overhauling the image of the government ahead of the Assembly elections due early next year. A common complaint against Capt. Amarinder was that he remained ‘inaccessible' not just to the public, but even to his party MLAs and leaders.

To strike a chord with people, Mr. Channi has been travelling across the State and meeting under-privileged sections.

To express solidarity with the families of the deceased farmers, the Chief Minister visited them and personally handed over appointment letters for government jobs to next of kin.

He also announced the waiver of the entire outstanding default amount of domestic electricity bills upto 2 kilo watt load.

To provide easy access to elected representatives such as sarpanches, municipal councillors etc., the government has decided to issue an entry card authorised by the local Deputy Commissioner or Sub Divisional Magistrate for hassle free entry to State government offices and civil secretariats in Chandigarh. To put an end to the ‘VIP’ culture, the Chief Minister announced a reduction in his security detail and asked his ministers to keep their security deployment to the barest minimum as per the guidelines.

In another change from the Capt. Amarinder led government, when MLAs complained that the “powerful” bureaucracy sidelined legislators in governance, Mr. Channi in his meeting with senior government officials firmly conveyed that due respect should be given to ministers, MLAs and elected representatives. “I am soft and gentle, but please don’t mistake my gentleness for something that will let inaction go unnoticed,” he stated.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 3:59:00 PM |

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