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Sunil Jakhar backs Channi as Cong's CM face in Punjab Assembly polls; says 'give him time to work'

Fazilka (Punjab) : After former chief of Punjab Pradesh Congress Sunil Jakhar sparked political reactions by claiming that 42 of 79 party MLAs wanted him to take over as the Punjab Chief Minister during the change of leadership in the party, he has now backed Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi stating that he should be given time so that he continues working. "What they decide will be accepted by all. But I'm of opinion that Channi ji has been given the opportunity, he should be given time so that he continues working. People have seen his good work in four months," Jakhar told media. Jakhar, who made way for PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu last year when the Amarinder-Sidhu clash was at its peak, had claimed that that 42 of 79 party MLAs wanted him to take over as the Punjab Chief Minister after Captain Amarinder Singh stepped down from the post while only two legislators favoured Channi. His statement came at a time when Congress is all set to announce its CM candidate for the upcoming polls. He further said that MLAs has passed a resolution to obey by the High Command's decision while discussing the Chief Ministerial candidate. Lauding Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his decision to make Channi, a Dalit face, as the Chief Minister of Punjab, Jakhar said that it was a "historic" decision. Jakhar further said that the most secular party in the country is Congress. "In my 20 years of political career, I have not seen any bigger secular leader than Rahul Gandhi." During the change of guard, Jakhar said that he was the first to support Channi as the CM of Punjab. "Those who are raising fingers today, ask them that when Charanjit Singh Channi was given a chance by Rahul ji, I was the first to approve it," Jakhar said. On asking about reports stating that he refused to become the CM, Jakhar denied and said, "I also have feelings." He further said that voting should not have been done to elect the CM if Channi was selected by the party to become the CM."Firstly, voting should not have taken place. When it is decided that he will be the Chief Minister, then what is the need of voting. If they did not want me to become the CM, they should have accused me of something like I am not even an MLA," he said. The Congress leader also said that he respects that many MLAs supported him and wanted him to become the CM. "I believe that my devotion towards politics was successful," he added. The Congress leader also said that if he had any political aspirations, he would have been fighting the upcoming elections. "To say that Sunil cannot be the CM as he is not a Sikh but a Hindu, it reflects their frustration and their inferiority complex. Punjab has never given me a chance to consider myself as a second-class citizen. In Punjab, everyone is a first-class citizen," he said. Appearing to be dissatisfied over not becoming chief minister, Jakhar said, "There was news that Channi sanctioned projects worth Rs 1,000 crore in his parliamentary constituency. I, without being an MLA or the chief minister, spent Rs 7,500 crore in four years. There was a difference of Rs 2,500 crore (in becoming the chief minister)." Addressing a public meeting in his Abohar on Tuesday, Jakhar said, "There were 42 MLAs in my favour, only two MLAs took Channi's name as Chief Minister." He also claimed that he declined the post of Deputy Chief Minister offered to him by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Jakhar said that 16 MLAs were in support of Sukhjinder Randhawa, 12 MLAs wanted Captain's wife Preneet Kaur for the Deputy chief minister post while only 6 MLAs were in favour of Navjot Singh Sidhu. In September last year, Charanjit Singh Channi was sworn in as Chief Minister of Punjab while Sukhjinder Randhawa and OP Soni took oath as deputy chief ministers. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi said that the party workers will take the decision regarding the chief ministerial face for Punjab. Punjab will go to the polls on February 20. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.

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