Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today anounced Charanjit Singh Channi will be the Congress Chief Ministerial candidate for Punjab. Mr Gandhi, ahead of the announcement at a rally in Ludhiana, praised both Navjot Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi – the contenders for the top post. Mr Gandhi also recalled the first meeting between him and Navjot Sidhu and his first impression of him.
“Do you know when was the first time I met Navjot Sidhu? Even he doesn’t remember…It has been 40 years now. When he met me then he didn’t even know that he was meeting with Rahul Gandhi,” he said.
Mr Gandhi then went on to detail his first impression of him during a “cricket match”.
“I was in Doon school. Today’s a Sunday, that day was also a Sunday. Yadvendra Public School had come to our school for a cricket match. Rahul Gandhi was sitting outside the field. Navjot Sidhu was the opening bowler. One of my friends told me he is Navjot Singh SIdhu and that he is a fast bowler. 6 wickets in 130 runs, the Doon school was all out withing an hour or two,”said Mr Gandhi.
“When it was his team’s turn to bat, Sidhu came as the opening batman. I was like, ‘so, he is a bowler and a batsman’. He scored 98 runs. Since that day I know this man has perseverance,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi was pictured arriving in Ludhiana in a car driven by former state unit chief Sunil Jakhar and at the back were seen Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Sidhu – in a seeming effort to project a picture of unity.
Ahead of the announcement, Mr Sidhu said, he is “ashiq of Punjab and don’t seek anything in return: “I don’t need anything. I seek welfare of Punjab. I have already agreed with Rahul Gandhi’s decision,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi, while announcing the Chief Ministerial pick, said, “This is Punjab’s decision, it’s not my decision.”
Punjab will vote on February 20. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.