PTI: From being elected president of a municipal council to being handpicked as the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab, Charanjit Singh Channi has seen a meteoric rise in the last two decades.

The 58-year-old three-time legislator from Chamkaur Sahib assembly constituency in Rupnagar district had joined the Congress in 2012 and was holding the portfolios of Technical Education, Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the outgoing Amarinder Singh-led cabinet.

He had along with three other ministers rebelled against Amarinder Singh while choosing to side with the camp of state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which has joined hands with the BSP, has already announced that the deputy chief minister post will be given to a Dalit if it wins the assembly polls, while the Aam Admi Party too is sensing a victory as its rivals remain in disarray.

Though Channi appears to be a surprise choice, it can be a calculated gamble by the party which is hoping that there might not be public opposition from leaders in the faction-ridden party to the naming of a Dalit for the post and it may contain the damage from the unsavoury exit of Amarinder Singh.

Channi along with three other ministers – Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria – and a section of MLAs had last month raised a banner of revolt against Amarinder Singh, saying they have no faith in his ability to honour the unfulfilled promises.

He has been a vocal critic of the government on the issues related to Dalits like representation of Scheduled Caste in senior government posts.

His political journey began with being elected as the president of the Kharar municipal council in 2002. He first contested as an Independent in 2007 and won from Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency.

He joined Congress in 2012 and was again elected as legislator from the same seat.

Channi had once got a road constructed outside his official residence to have east-facing entry to his house and it was later razed by the Chandigarh administration.

He was the leader of opposition in the Punjab Assembly during the previous SAD-BJP regime

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