Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday, 6 February, announced incumbent Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as the party's CM face for the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.
Making the announcement he said:
“People of Punjab have said, we want someone from a poor home as the chief minister. Somebody who understands the plight, hunger, and fears of the poor. Because that’s what Punjab needs.”
"This is a great fight. I can’t do it alone. I can only fight for the CM position with the people of Punjab," Channi said in his speech following Gandhi's.
"I neither have money nor the courage to fight this alone. It is with the people of Punjab that I will be able to fight this. I will never do anything wrong, there will be transparency. No money through illegal channels will ever come here."Charanjit Singh Channi
A Leader's Truth Cannot Be Hidden': Rahul Gandhi
Prior to making the announcement, Rahul said a true leader is made after years of struggle.
He said, “Jhakar ji said in his speech that Congress leaders are diamonds, and it is a very deep thing to say. I have been in politics since 2004. By now, I have some political experience and understanding. A political leader is not born in 10-15 days. A true leader does not get ready in TV debates. A true leader is made after years of fight and struggle."
He added, “It is easy to give lectures. But if you look deeply, a leader’s truth will be spotted. It cannot be hidden.”
Gandhi said that choosing a leader for Punjab was not an easy task. “The job given to me was to find one diamond from a collection of diamonds,” he added.
The Congress leader further recalled an incident from his school days in Dehradun’s Doon School, when Sidhu’s school team had come to play cricket against them. And he, in the audience, watched how Sidhu as a bowler, as well as a batsman, defeated the entire Doon School team.
This, Rahul said, was his first meeting with Sidhu. He said,
“That was the day when I recognised Navjot Singh Sidhu ji. This man has perseverance. He can practice. He can give years of his life.”
Commenting on Channi's leadership, Rahul said, “Channi ji has seen poverty. Emerged from poverty.”
He added, “When Channi ji became Chief Minister, the biggest post in Punjab, did you see a shred of arrogance in him? No."
"Channi ji goes amid the public. Have you ever seen PM Modi or Chief Minister Yogi (UP CM Yogi Adityanath) go amid the public? Have you ever seen PM Modi help someone in the middle of the road? No. He won’t do it. He is a king," said Rahul.
In the run up to the announcement of the chief ministerial candidate for Punjab Assembly polls, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu had on Sunday morning said that everyone will abide by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s decision on the matter.
Taking to Twitter on Sunday morning, Sidhu wrote:
“Nothing great was ever achieved without an act of decision …. Warm welcome to our leading light Rahul Ji , who comes to give clarity to Punjab …. All will abide by his decision !!! (sic)”
Channi and Sidhu were being viewed as the top contenders for the role.
"Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and State Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu have assured me that whoever will lead (be the chief ministerial face) in Punjab, the other person will support him," Rahul Gandhi had said in January, while addressing a virtual rally from Mithapur, Jalandhar.