New Delhi: These mistakes can happen when a political party wakes up belatedly from slumber and tries to draw political mileage without being sincere. The so-called hyped 'Dalit card' vis-à-vis new Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has come to haunt Congress.
New Punjab Chief Minister Channi, a Dalit legislator, took the oath of office on Monday (September 20) in the presence of Rahul Gandhi. But the entire show came a cropper as words spread, quoting Rahul's trusted lieutenant Harish Rawat (general secretary in-charge Punjab) that ensuing elections in Punjab will be fought under Navjot Singh Sidhu, Pradesh Congress chief. Of course, Sidhu-inspired politics made Rahul-Priyanka Gandhi Vadra duo sack Captain Amarinder Singh, 79. The former cricket star was also instrumental in backing Channi's name for the chief ministership. But Harish Rawat's words were a case of bringing the cat out of the bag.
Congress MP Sunil Jakhar, the Hindu leader who almost made it as Chief Minister, questioned AICC general secretary Rawat's reported statement. He said such statements could only undermine the credibility and respectability of the high office of the Chief Minister. Describing Rawat's statement as 'baffling', Jakhar said: "It is likely to undermine CM's authority, but also negate the very 'raison d'tre' of his selection for this position." Jakhar must be an upset man. His prospect of becoming Chief Minister was shot down after Congress veteran Ambika Soni played up the 'Sikh Chief Minister' card. In between came some other names, including that of Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
The BJP has not missed the opportunity to go unattended. Amit Malviya, IT cell chief of the saffron outfit, said in a tweet that – "This is a huge insult to the entire Dalit community if Charanjit Singh Channi has been made the CM only to hold the seat for Navjot Singh Sidhu, the chosen Gandhi family loyalist. This completely undermines the Dalit empowerment narrative being peddled by the Congress. Shame."
A section of Congress leaders has tried to spin that the move to make Channi the new Chief Minister was reflective of the Congress party's commitment towards the Dalit community. They cited that earlier this year, the Congress leadership and especially Rahul Gandhi had made Mallikarjun Kharge the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, replacing a Muslim face Ghulam Nabi Azad. But now, the fresh politics over 'going to the polls' under Sidhu's leadership exposes the Congress double standards.
"Dalits are now mere political pawns in Congress's devious politics. In Punjab, they claim to have made a Dalit CM, only to be posted as a night watchman, till Gandhi family loyalist Sidhu takes over. But maintains deafening silence over lynching of a Dalit youth in Rajasthan," Malviya wrote in another missive.