January 23, 2022 2:30:49 am
Dismissing Charanjit Singh Channi’s denial of involvement in illegal sand mining as a total lie, his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh Saturday said that as chief minister, he had received specific inputs that Channi had a share in the mafia, along with several other Congress leaders and MLAs in Punjab.
“From top to bottom, right up to the level of senior ministers, many people were involved, as I had told Sonia Gandhi while I was chief minister. She asked me what action I was taking in the matter, and I told her I will have to start from the top. The one and only mistake I made during my entire tenure was that I did not take any action then, out of my sense of loyalty to the Congress, since I did not get a go-ahead from Sonia,” said the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) leader.
While Channi’s involvement in the mining mafia and in the #metoo incident had exposed him as a contemptible character unworthy of ruling Punjab, Navjot Sidhu’s mental instability made him totally unfit to run the state, said Captain Amarinder, dismissing both the Congress leaders as utterly useless. Expressing surprise at what Rahul Gandhi saw in these people, he said the Congress decision to sideline him for such men was inexplicable.
In an interview to a TV channel, Amarinder spoke in detail about Channi’s #metoo case, which he said was not pursued by the lady in question as she accepted the then minister’s apology. Had she wanted to pursue the case, I would have taken action against Channi, he said, adding that his only role in the matter was to ask Channi to apologise to the woman officer, which he did and the apology was duly accepted by the lady.
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The former chief minister, who made it clear he will contest once again from his home constituency of Patiala, ruled out any challenge from the Congress or any of the other parties in the fray, saying none of the CM faces or prospective CM candidates had the mental acumen to think Punjab’s future. “How can a man who claims to actually talk to God an hour each in the morning and evening be stable?” asked Captain Amarinder, referring to Sidhu. The PPCC president can go around hugging Pakistan’s Imran Khan and General Bajwa as much as he likes, but that is not going to bring peace, nor will people tolerate such things when our soldiers are being killed at the border every day,” he said, adding that since 2017, Punjab alone had lost as many as 83 soldiers to Pak firing.
As for AAP’s CM nominee Bhagwant Mann, the PLC chief labelled him an out-and-out comedian, which Punjab, with its 600 kms long border with Pakistan, definitely did not need. The people of Punjab will not be fooled by AAP’s and Arvind Kejriwal’s antics, just as they were not befooled back in 2017, he said, rejecting any poll surveys putting the party ahead in Punjab. Amarinder further said the Badals and their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who were responsible for the 2015 sacrilege cases as well as Punjab’s drug and mafia menace, were also not suitable for the state. It was he, as chief minister, who had successfully brought the sacrilege cases to the courts despite the hurdles and delays in getting them back from the CBI, he added.
The former CM ruled out any post-poll tie-up with either Congress or AAP, saying the PLC had a clearly alliance with BJP and SAD (Sanyukt), which will definitely win the elections. The three parties were working on a common minimum programme for the state, which will secure Punjab’s and its people’s future, he said, adding that the CM face of the alliance was yet to be decided.
The former CM denied any paucity of good people in the PLC, saying the problem was not of people, of which the party has plenty, but of seats, since, as senior party, the BJP naturally wanted and expected more. Hoping that the Election Commission would soon relax the Covid restrictions, he said he will go to each of the 117 constituencies to take his message to the people and seek votes on the basis of his own achievements as chief minister as well as the Modi government’s accomplishments at the national level.
The only real Punjab model is that of the state’s future, said Amarinder, taking a dig at the models being propagated by Sidhu and Channi, whom he dismissed as incapable of thinking for Punjab. Even the much-touted Delhi model of AAP was a farce as Kejriwal had simply used cross-subsidy to give to the poor what he taking from the traders by taxing them, he added. Referring to the security breach during the Prime Minister’s visit to Punjab, the PLC leader said thanks to Channi, the state had lost out on Rs 43,000 crore worth of projects which the PM had intended to announce. Given Pakistan’s military capability and capacity to fire artillery shells up to 35 kms (and the PM was stuck on a bridge just 10 kms from the border), there was a serious risk, for which Channi and his government were solely responsible, he added.
To announce first list today Amarinder has stated that he will announce the first list of his party candidate on Sunday. The announcement would be done virtually at 2 pm on Sunday.
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