Updated: February 17, 2022 6:14:36 am
Days before Punjab votes, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by his side and applauding him, kicked up a row when he called upon Punjabis to “unite” and not let “bhaiyas from UP, Bihar and Delhi” enter the state.
His remarks drew a sharp response from rivals AAP and BJP which said it was “shameful” that he and Priyanka were targeting “a particular community” and calling for the “boycott” of “people from UP and Bihar”.
Overwhelmed to see euphoric atmosphere as Smt. @priyankagandhi Ji campaigned in favour of Indian National Congress at Rupnagar. All the love and support people showered on us left me filled with gratitude. pic.twitter.com/dzcncWzc5x
— Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) February 15, 2022
Addressing a road show taken out by Priyanka in favour of party candidate and Punjab Youth Congress chief Brinder Singh Dhillon in Ropar Tuesday evening, Channi said: “Punjabian di bahu hai Priyanka Gandhi, eh saadi Punjaban hai, iss karke ikk passe ho jao Punjabion… UP, Bihar aur Delhi de bhaiye aa ke ithe raj karan lagge, vadan na deo ithe (Priyanka is Punjab’s daughter-in-law. She is our Punjaban. So Punjabis, get united. The bhaiyas from UP, Bihar and Delhi want to rule here. But we will not let them enter).”
Priyanka smiled and applauded when he made these remarks. She also told Channi and Dhillon: “Inko samjhayie ke manch par khade ho kar banawati pagri pehnane se koi sardar nahi ho jaata. Sardar sardar hotein hain (Please make them understand that by wearing a fake turban, one does not become a Sardar. Sardars are Sardars).”
Upping the ante
Given the uncertainties of the four-way contest in Punjab, parties and leaders are upping the ante to swing votes. That Priyanka, who is leading the Congress campaign in UP, cheered Channi over his bhaiya-from-UP remark has not gone unnoticed — within the party and in rival camps.
Channi has been using the term “bhaiyas” for migrants, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as migrants who want to rule Punjab. Two days ago, while addressing the media, he said: “These people are like bhaiyas. We bring them to Punjab, respect them, look after them. But we cannot allow them to rule us.”
Kejriwal slammed Channi: “It is very shameful. We strongly condemn comments aimed at any individual or any particular community. Priyanka Gandhi also belongs to Uttar Pradesh so she is also a ‘bhaiya’.” The AAP chief, who was in Jalandhar on the occasion of Guru Ravidas Jayanti, said it is a “very shameful remark”.
“Passing remarks on any community or state or group is deplorable,” he said while addressing the media in Jalandhar along with AAP’s CM candidate Bhagwant Mann.
Union Minister and BJP leader Bhupender Yadav, in a Twitter post, said: “First Rahul Gandhi said India isn’t a nation. Now Priyanka Vadra cheers to CM Charanjit Channi’s call to boycott people from UP and Bihar. The work to divide India has been an ongoing project for Congress’ first family. That is why India is rejecting them state after state.”
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Congress leader Manish Tewari, addressing the media in Ludhiana, said, “Turban is the pride of Punjab. So there should be no politics on wearing it.” While some Congress leaders said he was referring to Modi and Kejriwal who don turbans on stage, others said Tewari was taking a swipe at Priyanka.
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