Manthan 2021 Exclusive: Charanjit Singh Channi gives deep insights into upcoming Punjab polls

News24 organized Punjab Conclave 2021 to know the mood in Punjab. Many dignitaries associated with Punjab politics and representatives of various parties and many senior political analysts participated in the conclave.

New Delhi: Punjab is on the verge of assembly elections, where the stage is set for an exciting political battle.

Meanwhile, News24 organized Punjab Conclave 2021 to know the mood in Punjab. Many dignitaries associated with Punjab politics and representatives of various parties and many senior political analysts participated in the conclave.

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Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi also joined the conclave.

Annuradha Prasad, Chief In-Editor of News 24, asked Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi some important questions related to his tenure, future strategies and the current situation.

Let us know what Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said:

Annuradha Prasad: You were made the Chief Minister of a prosperous state like Punjab six months ago. After taking the oath, you have done a wonderful job. What is the secret of your success?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: It has been only two months since I became Punjab CM. I am fulfilling the responsibility given to me with an open heart. I haven’t done anything differently. I am doing what the people at the ground level need. What middle-class families want. What the poor need.

I have risen from the ground level. I have encountered many problems along the way. I know the problems faced by the common man. I know how the house of the poor drips when it rains, how he gets in trouble. How hard the poor have to struggle. I have gone through it myself. I am trying to overcome the difficulties from which I have emerged. I’m not doing anything new. I am doing what I can to get rid of people’s problems.

Annuradha Prasad: It is being said that you have been handed the post of Punjab Chief Minister which is a crown with big thorns. That is why it has been put on your head?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Earlier people used to say what will he do, now people are saying what to do about him? The system has changed. Earlier people used to ask when does the CM work? Now people are asking when does the CM sleep? Earlier people used to try and find out the working hours of the system, now they are finding it hard to find out my non-working hours. I am setting a trend for other politicians so that the perception of our public may change. I want to say that good deeds can be done in an honest manner. In politics, it is not just a matter of abusing each other.

Annuradha Prasad: Captain Amarinder Singh came, he complimented you, said that you are a good person, the right person has got the right post.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I have worked with Captain Amarinder Singh. He had given me the responsibility to celebrate 550 years of Guru Nanak Sahib. We tried our best to fulfill that responsibility which was appreciated all over the world. I went to the Kartarpur Corridor. At that time Captain Sahib had complimented me. He still appreciates me today.

Annuradha Prasad: You have little time, and many decisions have to be made. But people say that you will probably not be able to work in such a short time. Do you regret not being made the CM earlier?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: We are prompt in our work. Now electricity rates have been reduced, then rates have come down. The price of petrol has been reduced by Rs 10, diesel by Rs 5. Electricity bills have been waived off. All the decisions I have taken have been implemented.

Annuradha Prasad: Captain was saying that the government will incur a loss of four thousand crore rupees because of the decision on electricity bills.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: My opponents say give money to the poor, where will this money come from? So I have to see where that money will come from. I have paid the electricity bill of the poor. I am a student of political science and I have also studied economics. To those who say that the treasury is empty, I say that we will fill the treasury every year, distribute to the people every year.

Annuradha Prasad: You have decided that 75% of the jobs will be reserved for local people here, will you be able to implement this decision?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: We will go even further. Our young men are going abroad. The reason is that we are not able to give him the right jobs here. People are fed up with our system. When we go to Canada, no policeman troubles us unless we break the law. There the system does not bother the common man unless he makes a mistake.

Here the system is, there is a Patwari, there is a Tehsildar, there is a Munshi sitting in the police station, he should talk to people with love and not ask them for bribes. The system has to be corrected. The dirt has to be removed from the system. We are doing that. We are making a list of corrupt people. We have come with Mission Clean. The government has to be run with absolute transparency. We have eliminated the mafia.

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Annuradha Prasad: You have launched a campaign against the mafia. But in the corrupt system, there will be your people, there will also be people from your party, those people will be angry with you somewhere, where will they support you again?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: As long as I work, I will do it honestly. The administration is transparent. Every poor middle-class youth has got relief. The expenses of the government has become more than the income from taxes. But the poor are not getting sustenance. Their daughters are not getting married, their children are not able to study. If the government continues to take all the money then how will the poor run their livelihood?

Annuradha Prasad: This is all in the long term, but the elections are right in front of us. You will have to talk to everyone, take everyone along. How will you do it? Winning the election will be a big deal for you!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I have fought ten elections including school and college. My ancestors were not ministers. But I was first in school from childhood, where there were a thousand children. There I became president. When I stood at prayer on the first day, my legs were shaking. But my father said that imagine the wheat crop are children should and give a speech. That’s what I did. Later, I became president in college. Congress did not give ticket, I won as an independent. After that Congress made me Leader of Opposition. I have fought so many elections, but I work with good policy. I do not think of winning or fighting the next election.

Annuradha Prasad: On the day your name was announced, Randhawa ji’s name was running in the media, then suddenly your name came up, then we all started thinking that Mr. Channi is fine, but there are many big names in Punjab politics, Be it Badal, or Captain Amarinder Singh or Sidhu. When your name came up we felt we should do some research about you. So did you also find this amazing?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I have never been a candidate for the post of Chief Minister. I have no faction in my party. No group. This is an age of change. The seat on which the elite class used to sit along with kings and maharajas, who were richer than the rich, used to own thousands of acres, were ruling by turn, that system is over.

Now the son of a poor family, a farmer, a middle-class person has got the hope that when Channi can become the Chief Minister, then I can also become one. This change should be taken positively. This will remain. If I don’t become now, then someone else will become the son of a farmer. Now the relationship of these big people is broken. Now politics will change. People will consider politicians good.

Annuradha Prasad: All sorts of things happen in politics. It was also said that you were made the Chief Minister because you are the face of the Dalit community. This matters due to the vote bank combination of the party. How do you see it?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Look, I contested the election in school. There was a child of every caste. I fought in college, there were children of every caste and religion. I have been elected MC from General Ward three times, not from Dalit Ward, I am not based on any one caste or quota. I am trying to run a government of the people. The decisions we have made are not for any particular caste. They are for everyone. Everyone’s electricity bills have been waived. Electricity rates have been reduced for everyone. Petrol has become cheaper for everyone. Therefore, caste-community has no importance in this. It is important that the public chooses us.

Annuradha Prasad: Kejriwal is saying that he will make electricity completely free in Punjab. How do you see it?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Kejriwal has waived power bills up to 400 units. But if even one unit exceeds 400 then full money has to be paid. This is a kind of fraud. In Punjab, 300 units have already been waived. That will remain. On top of that, we have reduced the rate. The rate of electricity up to 100 units has gone up to 1.29 paise. What is the bill for 300 units? But when the rate of the unit itself has been reduced, there will be a benefit of thousands of rupees. This means that there should be no deception. This is not to say that if you get 401 units then you have to pay full money. People understand everything.

Annuradha Prasad: Which party is the biggest challenge for you in the next elections?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: There is no challenge for me. The challenge for me is myself. I am realizing that this responsibility has to be fulfilled. I have neither time to sleep nor time to do any work. My challenge to myself is to do four years of work in four months and I am doing it. People are watching it.

Annuradha Prasad: Badal has said that tax was imposed on our buses, while buses were not running at the time of the pandemic, or were running within 50 percent traffic rules.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: You have got the answer. The big ones are the ones who are running a thousand buses. The big ones are those who have businesses, who together rob Punjab. This has to be stopped.

Annuradha Prasad: When you were a minister in Captain’s government, all this was happening. Why did you not raise your voice then?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I am here only because I raised my voice at that time. They are not in power because I raised my voice.

Annuradha Prasad: You raised your voice, who did you tell?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Whenever I raised my voice, my voice was suppressed. I was beaten. I do not have any property that can be taken away. I am a man of the public. The public saves me. I have people who do everything, I am not afraid of anyone else.

Annuradha Prasad: How confident are you that your government will remain in power?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I am not working to hold on to power. I am working for the public. There is still some time to go for the elections. The public has to decide whom to vote into power.

Annuradha Prasad: People are saying that Channi ji is doing so much work, but the Congress has not confirmed him as the party’s candidate for the post of Chief Minister.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: What was my first confirmation? When I became the Leader of the Opposition. Even when I became the Chief Minister, my name was not talked about. The party high command will decide on who will be the candidate. Rahul Gandhi is a revolutionary leader, he has brought a revolution. People will understand later what kind of a leader Rahul Gandhi is!

Annuradha Prasad: People say that power corrupts people. Will it corrupt you as well? Can you promise to the people that Charanjit Singh Channi will continue to remain the same? Because people do not believe that no one changes after becoming CM!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I became the municipal president. It made me happier than ever. Because I did a lot of work there. I had full power. You go to the people of my city and ask how much work I did. So whatever power I have will be just for the people. It will be for the children who have nothing, it will be for the youth who have no one to help them. I am the recommendation of those who have no recommendation. This power is for the farmer who stays in the field all night and there is no electricity.

I met farmers gathered yesterday, wanted to know their demands. I also told them that when you say I will resign and join you in your struggle. I have no greed for any position or power.

Annuradha Prasad: You are interested in studies, you have done a PhD. But the topic of your PhD was very interesting – ‘Congress’s shifting mass base’.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I have not submitted my thesis yet. My research is ongoing. I am working on ‘Organization Structure and Electoral Strategy of Indian National Congress’.

I also want to give this message to the youth that they should keep strengthening themselves for the rest of their lives. There is no limit or age of knowledge. I did BA first, then I did LLB. When I became MLA for the first time, I completed my MBA. The second time, I did my MA. Now I am doing PhD. People ask me why I need to study so. But I say keep learning in life.

Annuradha Prasad: You are doing research on the Congress, so have you shared anything with your leaders regarding what kind of changes should take place in the Congress?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: I always do that.

Annuradha Prasad: But what flaws do you see in your party?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: There are flaws in the party. No party is good or bad. It depends on the character of the people who run it, how they are running it. Shiromani Akali Dal has been a very good party. Great deeds have been done by them. They have been representing the Sikhs. But since Sukhbir Badal and Majithia have come, the party is over. Good people are needed.

Annuradha Prasad: People say that Channi ji does not need any other opponent, as long as Sidhu is the party president!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: The ideology of the party has to be implemented by the government. Whatever Sidhu ji says, even if it is a condemnation, then we should learn from it. Every government, every Chief Minister, every representative of the people should learn something or the other from criticism. If Sidhu ji says something then I should see where I am lacking.

Annuradha Prasad: You work softly, you don’t say anything, so if Sidhu ji says something then the matter is settled. Is that so?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: No, it is not. Sidhu ji does good things. Criticism is necessary. Leaders who run away from criticism, run away from the press, cannot do good work. The press has its own role. Leaders have their own roles. Only together can democracy work well. In a democracy, if the party supremo is saying something, I should pay attention to that. There may be a discussion. I can present my views.

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Annuradha Prasad: But it seems that Sidhu ji always wants to unsettle you!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: It is important to keep moving. As long as I keep moving, cleaning will continue.

Annuradha Prasad: You are saying that there should be cleaning, but someone should be given time, they started it within a week!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Good thing. My cleaning has also started. I am bringing forward the ideology that the party wants.

Annuradha Prasad: But whatever he said, whether it was the case of disrespect to the Guru Granth Sahib or the drugs case, you did not work on all these issues within 24 hours.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: These cases have been tangled together for more than four and a half years. Now we are straightening out the issue.

Annuradha Prasad: Sukhbir Badal has said that you are prosecuting people. He has alleged that you, the Advocate General and police chief were all sitting in the Governor House and demanding changes in the SIT report.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: No one can change the SIT report, because it is with the High Court. Whatever he has said is wrong. I want to say to these people that, the way you have looted Punjab, the way you have distributed drugs, You will have to account for it in the house of God.

Annuradha Prasad: How much does the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) distract you?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: My brother (AAP MLA) is sitting next to you. They do not disturb me at all. I went to him, hugged him and said that I am waiting.

Annuradha Prasad: But how seriously do you take them?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: There are some good people among them. I have invited all these people and have told them that we are all common men, that we should work together. The country has to be taken forward.

Annuradha Prasad: Do you want to break the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: No, I want to unite people. Most people have joined us. I have also invited the others to join us. If we want to do good for the country and Punjab, we will have to do it together.

Annuradha Prasad: Now it is understood that you are breaking the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Are you now trying to make a dent in the Akali Dal too?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: We do not need to make a dent there. As long as Sukhbir Badal and Majithia are there, we don’t even need to think about them. The Akali Dal will have to change its leaders. The Akali Dal is a good team, but the leaders will have to be changed.

Annuradha Prasad: Manish Sisodia of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had said that Channi is taking those AAP MLAs who hade told by the party that they will not get a ticket in the next elections.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: There is a saying that ‘Nach na jaane, angan teda’. They can’t give tickets to those who come to us. 11 out of 21 are not with them. As long as they were together, they were good. Now what has happened to them?

Annuradha Prasad: Will you give tickets to those people?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Our party will take this decision. I’m not the only decision maker. If you don’t trust those whom you pick as MLAs, who will trust you? They have their own problems, so people are leaving them.

Annuradha Prasad: Captain Amarinder Singh has said that after the Code of Conduct starts, his real work will begin.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Work did not start till he was in power. In the four and a half years of his rule, no work was started.

Such a big movement is going on, which is being killed by the BJP. Captain Amarinder Singh has gone and joined with BJP. Who will vote for him now?

Annuradha Prasad: We have heard that you study astrology a lot. An astrologer told you to ride an elephant which you did and you became the Chief Minister!

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Look, when I ride an elephant, people say that this is astrology. If I do something else, people say it is astrology. There was no road in front of my house, it was closed, I made my way and people said that there is astrology. There is no such thing. But astrology is also a science. People who read know. One must believe when there is science.

Annuradha Prasad: How do you see the BSP after becoming the Chief Minister? Because it is seen as a party of Dalits. That is why the BSP has formed an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Kanshiram was a revolutionary man. He wanted to uplift the Dalits. But now that ideology is absent in the party. The party does not have any influence in Punjab. But the Akali Dal wants to use it.

The Akali Dal has given them tickets for those seats where the BSP has no standing. Where they enjoy public support, they have not been given tickets. Such seats have been left for the BSP by deception, which are to be left for the BJP. Because this is an inside nexus. The SAD has given those seats to the BSP from where the BJP has to win. The SAD is cheating the BSP.

The Akali Dal had earlier reached an agreement with the BSP in 1996. Then broke it in 1997. They formed the government with the BJP instead of the BSP. Now they are cheating the BSP again. For the BSP, 20 seats have been left by the Akalis, but in fact, the BJP has to win from those seats.

Annuradha Prasad: You have worked with Captain. Now Captain has gone and has allied with the BJP. How do you see this development?

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi: Look, every man’s thinking keeps changing. There was a day when the whole Punjab believed in him. He also swore that I will do this, I will do that. That did not happen for four and a half years. Work continued with the Badals. The government of the Badals continued indirectly. No matter how many decisions they are taking, they are taking wrong. It was wrong to ally with the Badals. Now it is wrong to ally with the BJP.

first published:Nov. 20, 2021, 7:18 p.m.

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