The Congress’s move to name Charanjit Singh Channi as the new Punjab Chief Minister is being seen an attempt to woo the Dalit votebank in the state ahead of 2022 Assembly polls.
A Dalit face of the Congress, third-time MLA from Chamkaur Sahib constituency, Channi (58) is expected to help the Congress win support of the Dalits who make up an estimated 31.9 per cent of Punjab’s overall population. Besides this, backward classes constitute 18 per cent of the Punjab’s population.
Ahead of 2022 Assembly polls which will be a contest between Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party, all political parties woo Dalits in Punjab.
After severing ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has formed alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in bid to consolidate its position in the Doaba region, the Dalit heartland of Punjab, which has 23 Assembly seats. The SAD has also promised deputy CM’s post for a Dalit.
The AAP has given the post of the Leader of Opposition to a Dalit, Harpal Singh Cheema and promised the deputy CM’s post to the community member after forming the government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party too has been saying that whoever gets the Dalit votes will win the next election in Punjab. While a prominent Dalit face in Punjab’s Doaba region, Som Parkash, is the Union minister of state for commerce and industry in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, another Dalit face Vijay Sampla was appointed as the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes with the rank of a Union minister.