Dismissing Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s denial of involvement in illegal sand mining as a ‘lie, Punjab Lok Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Saturday said that as a chief minister, he had received specific inputs that Channi had a share in the mafia, along with several other Congress leaders and MLAs in the state.
“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 the chief minister (of Punjab). 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 Gandhi,” Amarinder Singh said.
In an interview to a TV channel, Amarinder Singh spoke in detail about Channi’s ‘Me Too’ case, which he said was not pursued by the woman 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 woman.
The former chief minister, who made it clear he will contest once again from his home constituency of Patiala in the upcoming Assembly polls, 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 have the mental acumen to think of 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 Amarinder Singh, taking a veiled dig at Punjab Congress chief to Navjot Singh 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 in Pak firing.
As for AAP’s CM nominee Bhagwant Mann, the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) chief labelled him as an ‘out-and-out comedian’ whom Punjab 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 some poll surveys putting the party ahead in Punjab.
Amarinder Singh further said the Badals and their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are also not suitable for the state.
The former chief minister ruled out any post-poll tie-up with either the Congress or the AAP, saying the PLC has a clear alliance with the BJP and the SAD (Sanyukt), which will definitely win the elections.
The three parties are working on a common minimum programme for the state, which will secure Punjab and its people’s future, he said, adding that the CM face of the alliance is yet to be decided.
The former CM denied any paucity of good people in the PLC, saying the problem is not of people, of which the party has plenty, but of seats, since, as the senior party, the BJP naturally wants and expects more.
Hoping that the Election Commission would soon relax the Covid restrictions, Amarinder Singh 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 Narendra Modi government’s accomplishments at the national level.
The only real Punjab model is that of the state’s future, said Amarinder Singh, 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 is a farce as Kejriwal simply uses cross-subsidy to give to the poor what he takes from the traders by taxing them, Amarinder Singh claimed.