Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab's new Chief Minister, broke down today as he thanked his Congress party leadership for choosing “an aam aadmi (common man)” for the top post. Addressing the media shortly after his oath, he announced the first of the party's poll promises – a water bill waiver for the poor.
“I am the aam aadmi, sitting here while other parties keep talking about aam aadmi. This is the aam aadmi Sarkar. It has to take many decisions for Punjab,” Mr Channi said, flanked by Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and in-charge Harish Rawat.
“My father used to fix tents at others' houses…,” he said, choking up, calling Rahul Gandhi a “revolutionary leader” for rallying behind him.
In his effusive thank-yous, Mr Channi included his predecessor and frequent target Amarinder Singh, who resigned on Saturday accusing the Congress of humiliating him.
Mr Channi is the first Dalit Sikh to become Chief Minister of Punjab. He has two deputies, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Om Prakash Soni.
Rahul Gandhi attended the oath ceremony, owning his decision on Punjab amid criticism from several quarters.
“I am a representative of the common man, the farmer and anyone who is oppressed. I am not a representative of the rich. Those who are into sand-mining and other illegal activities, don't come to me. I am not your representative,” the new Chief Minister declared.
Promising to exempt the poor from water bills, Mr Channi said, “Amarinder Singh has done good work…I will complete all of Captain (Amarinder Singh's) unfinished work.”
He added: “Party is supreme. Party will take decisions, the government will implement them.”
Mr Channi has just four months to make good on his promises as the Congress preps for the Punjab election early next year.
Topmost on his agenda will be to tick off the 18-point Congress checklist of unfulfilled poll promises that the party believes Amarinder Singh failed to tackle.