Punjab CM, Sidhu draw flak for flying in chartered jet

Channi on chartered flight, Akali Dal questions his 'aam aadmi pitch'

Opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal questioned the need to hire a chartered aircraft to reach Delhi

Punjab CM Channi, Navjot Singh Sidhu leave for Delhi. Credit: PTI Photo

A day after his swearing in, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi air-dashed to Delhi along with the Dy CMs who had sworn in with him and PCC chief Navjot Sigh Sidhu to discuss the new Cabinet formation, evoking a strong reaction from Opposition Akali Dal, which slammed the new CM for "promoting Delhi Durbar" culture.

Channi, Sidhu and Dy CMs--Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O P Soni took a chartered flight to Delhi to discuss Cabinet formation. Sidhu, whose shadow looms larger over the new dispensation, tweeted a photo of them with the chartered plane with the caption "in line of duty !!".

The tweet kicked up a row with Akali Dal raising questions over the use of a chartered flight while Channi had pitched for an "aam aadmi sarkar", flauting his "humble origin" at the time of swearing in.

Read: New Punjab CM Channi urges Centre to repeal farm laws

"After saying that they stand with the common man, INC leaders take private jets to travel just 250 kms from Chandigarh to Delhi. Are there no normal flights or cars that can be used? Or is this chest thumping aimed at propagation of Gandhi family’s Delhi Darbar culture?," SAD tweeted.

AICC in-charge for Telangana Manickam Tagore, has, however, hailed the appointment of Channi tweeting, "Channiji didn't have a roof in his house, his mother used to get mud to plaster walls, father ran a tent house. Humble background."

Apparently, Congress leadership is doing a balancing act on the issue of the leadership of Channi. After AICC in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat's remarks that the party will go to the polls with the face of Sidhu, "undermining" the new CM, invited sharp criticism, AICC was quick to clarify that both Sidhu and Channi will be the party's faces for the polls that are months away.

Congress, which carried out a "social balancing" in inducing a dalit CM, and one deputy CM each from Jat Sikh and Hindu community, is expected to extend such social engineering even in the new Cabinet expansion. With Sidhu spearheading the campaign after the exit of 79-year-old Captain, the party is expected to bring forth fresh faces in the new government to give it a youth-friendly look.

Former Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, former national-level hockey player Pargat Singh, OBC leader Sangat Singh Gilzian, who had in 2018 accused the party of ignoring backward classes in Cabinet, Madanlal Jalalpur, who had got into a controversy in 2019 over his certain remarks on women are in contention along with others for the Cabinet.

What remains to be seen is how many loyalists of former CM Captain Amarinder Singh are inducted into the Cabinet.

Meanwhle, rumblings in Punjab continued with more senior leaders in the party reflecting discomfiture with the Sidhu takeover even as the party played Dalit card to the hilt.

Latching on to remarks to the chief priest of Akal Takht Sahib Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh, party MP Manish Tewari, who is close to Amarinder, said he salutes his sagacity and wisdom.

"He is wiser than most of us - Politicians! As Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj said--Manas Ki Jaat Sabhe Eke Pehchan Bo’ (There should be one identity of human beings)," Tewari tweeted on Tuesday.

Giani Harpreet Singh, had said it was secondary whether the CM is Sikh or Hindu and what is more important is that one should rather be a better human being.

Reacting to the remarks, former Punjab PCC chief Sunil Jakhar had hit out at Congress leaders saying, "Sagacious words of Jathedar of Shri Akal Takht Sahib couldn’t have come at a better time when petty-minded people occupying high positions are trying to divide Punjab on basis of race/caste/identities-forgetting eternal message of Guru."

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