Charanjit Channi, Many Congress Leaders Involved In Illegal Sand Mining: Amarinder Singh

The Congress’s decision to sideline him was inexplicable: Amarinder Singh (File)

Chandigarh:

Punjab ex-chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said Charanjit Singh Channi’s denial of involvement in illegal sand mining was a “total lie” and alleged he had received inputs that the Chief Minister had a share in the mafia, along with other Congress leaders and MLAs.

“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 (Gandhi),” said the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) leader, who was made to resign September last year as the Chief Minister.

“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 completely unfit to run the state,” Mr Singh alleged, terming both the Congress leaders “utterly useless”.

Expressing surprise, he questioned what Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saw in these people and added that the Congress’s decision to sideline him for such men was inexplicable.

A statement quoting an interview to a TV channel said that Mr Singh spoke about Mr Channi’s #metoo 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 Mr Channi to apologise to the officer, which he did and the apology was accepted by the woman.

Mr Channi was alleged to have sent an inappropriate text to an IAS officer in 2018.

The former chief minister, who made it clear that he will contest again from his home constituency of Patiala, ruled out any challenge from the Congress or the other parties in the fray, saying none of the Chief Minister faces or prospective Chief Minister candidates have the mental acumen to think about Punjab’s future.

“How can a man who claims to talk to God an hour every morning and evening be stable,” Mr Singh asked, referring to Mr Sidhu.

The PPCC president can go around hugging Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistani army chief as much as he likes, but neither is it going to bring peace, nor will people tolerate such things when Indian soldiers are being killed at the border every day, he said, adding that since 2017, Punjab alone had lost 83 soldiers to firing by the neighbouring nation.

The PLC chief labelled AAP’s Chief Minister nominee Bhagwant Mann an “out-and-out comedian”, which Punjab, with its 600 km-long border with Pakistan, did not need. The people of Punjab will not be fooled by the antics of the Aam Aadmi Party and its national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, just as they were not fooled in 2017, he said, rejecting any poll surveys putting the party ahead in the state. He said the Badals and their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were also not suitable for the state.

Mr Singh said it was he, as chief minister, who had successfully brought the sacrilege cases to the court despite the hurdles and delays in getting them back from the CBI.

The former chief minister ruled out any post-poll tie-up with either the Congress or the AAP, saying the PLC had an alliance with the BJP and the SAD (Sanyukt) which will definitely win the elections.

The three parties were working on a common minimum programme which would secure the future of Punjab and its people, he said, adding that the chief ministerial face of the alliance was yet to be decided.



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