Facing flak over the “security lapse” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi Thursday dug in his heels alleging that a “systematic campaign” is being run “to defame Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat” and said said that “if there would be any threat to the Prime Minister, then the Punjab CM would be the first to take a bullet in the chest”.
“Pradhan Mantri nu khatra hovey tan Punjab da mukh mantri apni chaati tey goli khaayega pehlan. (If Prime Minister faces any threat to life, then the CM of Punjab would be first take a bullet in his chest). If PM’s life comes under threat, then every child of Punjab will come forward for his safety. We are nationalists. We have bled for our country,” Channi said.
Addressing a public gathering at Machhiwara in Samrala constituency of Ludhiana, Channi claimed there was no threat to Modi’s life and he cancelled his programme on Wednesday because of less number of people in the BJP’s rally at Ferozepur.
“When PM got to know that chairs (at the rally venue) are empty, he made an excuse. The fact is that he was scheduled to take a helicopter but then all of sudden, they took the road route. And then a campaign was started to defame Punjab, Punjabiyat, people of Punjab, and the government of Punjab,” said Channi.
The Congress leader said the Special Protection Group (SPG) had taken over the entire arrangements for PM’s security five days ago. “They had decided there would be three helipads and cleared all routes. They decided everything — chopper, attendees, venue, landing in Bathinda and then flying to Ferozepur. But at the last minute, without any warning, they arranged some vehicles and took the road route,” he said.
The CM asked how could the PM’s life be threatened if the protestors were more than a kilometre away from him. “The protesting farmers were at least 12 kms away. The PM’s convoy was duly informed about the protest. No farmer or Punjabi went near him. No slogans were raised against PM. No one touched the PM’s vehicle. Which danger was he talking about,” asked Channi.
Channi reiterated that there was no security lapse or any shortcoming by his government or Punjab Police. “Gall koi vi nahi hai atey tussi kehdo ‘main zinda waapis jaa raha hu’ (There was no issue at all and then you are saying ‘I am going back alive’) What is this? No one was near you (Modi), no one touched you, there wasn’t a single person within 1 km radius and you are saying ‘main zinda waapis jaa raha hu’,” said Channi to Modi.
He also questioned the ‘danger’ that the PM felt from a handful of farmers who were sitting on the road to express their resentment against the Modi government. “The protesters wanted to show their resentment. I spoke to them till 3 am and assured them that we will arrange a meeting with the PM. Koi chaar bandey sadak tey aake baith ke, ohna nu pyaar naal hata rahe si, ehde vich khatra ki hai? (If a handful of them sat on the road, what exactly was the danger in it?).”
Channi urged Modi to “stop defaming the state and its people for vested political interests”.
“They (the BJP) can defame me as much as they want, but I won’t let them defame the people of Punjab. I won’t rain lathis or bullets on the people of Punjab at the behest of someone,” he added.
The CM reminded Modi that Punjabis have sacrificed their lives for unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. “Tuhadi jaan nu Punjab vich khatra ho kida sakda? (How can there be any danger to your life in Punjab?) Punjabis give up their lives at the border every fourth day. You are defaming Punjab,” he added.
Stating that he had no danger from the people of Punjab, Channi asked security personnel at the rally venue to allow people to enter the D-area near the stage.
Addressing another gathering at Tanda in Hoshiarpur, where he laid the foundation stone for development works worth Rs 18 crore at the New Grain Market, Channi alleged that security breach issues was now being played up by the BJP and was aimed at “toppling a democratically elected government” in the state.
Stating that PM minister is a respected leader, he said but it does not behove a leader of his stature to indulge in “such cheap theatrics”.
“Yesterday’s gimmick by the prime minister and his coterie is aimed at imposing the President rule in the state,” he claimed and reminded the PM that Punjab can be won only with love and not by pressure. He said Punjabis will vehemently oppose any move to destabilise democracy in the state.
In Machhiwara, citing a comparison, Channi said the weather was poor on Wednesday and on Thursday as well but there were very few takers for BJP’s rally while whereas the Congress’s rally was swelling with people.
“Yesterday there was a rally in Ferozepur. Then too the weather was inclement. But the difference between both the rallies is that today despite heavy rain, I cannot see a single empty chair here. Yesterday, Captain Amarinder Singh addressed empty chairs and Modi did not turn up,” said Channi.
At Tanda, he termed Amarinder a “political deadwood” and said that everyone knew the former CM had “backstabbed” Punjab due to which no one wanted to listen to him. “The day is not far when all the candidates of the Maharaja will lose their deposits in the polls,” Channi claimed.
Assailing AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Channi described him as a “chronic liar”, alleging that he was trying to “mislead the people of the state with his fake promises”.
A day after Congress said that it won’t hold rallies in poll-bound states due to rising Covid cases, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi Thursday not only attended a rally in Samrala without wearing a mask, but also lauded people for attending the rally without fearing Corona, standing so close to each other and leaving no chair empty. He said that it was ‘people’s love’ for the Congress. Not only the CM, but none of the Congress leaders — including MLA Samrala Amrik Singh, minister Gurkirat Kotli and MLA Payal Lakhvir Lakha — were seen wearing masks.
“How come people have come here despite the rain. You guys are not even afraid of Covid and are standing so close to each other to listen to us. It is because you love us. If no one went to listen to the PM, was it our fault?,” said Channi from the stage. He also launched the formal takeover of National College for Women (Machhiwara) as Government College for Women.