Kejriwal says Amarinder, Channi tried suppressing Sidhu; Punjab CM hits back

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By PTI

AMRITSAR: AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday praised Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu for “raising” public welfare issues but claimed that he has been facing suppression from both the present and former state chief ministers.

On a two-day visit to Punjab, the Delhi chief minister also claimed that about 25 Congress MLAs and two-three MPs from the state are in touch with his party, seeking to join it, but, he said, “We do not take garbage from other parties”.

“I praise Sidhu for his courage,” Kejriwal said, adding the Punjab Congress president had “corrected” state Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi when the latter claimed that sand was being sold to the public at Rs 5 per cubic feet.

“Sidhu told the chief minister that it was still being sold at Rs 20 per cubic feet,” said Aam Aadmi Party’s national convenor Kejriwal.

He said Sidhu has always been raising issues of public interest, but he was earlier suppressed by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and is now being suppressed by Channi.

“Sidhu has been raising people’s issues, but earlier Capt Sahab and now Channi is trying to suppress him,” the AAP supremo claimed.

Kejriwal also hit out at Channi, who became chief minister in September after the unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh, alleging that he has not fulfilled till now any of his promises to people, like that of giving free electricity or building mohalla clinics.

On being asked about a couple of Punjab’s AAP leaders joining the Congress ahead of the state assembly polls, Kejriwal shot back, “About 25 Congress MLAs and two-three of their MPs are in touch with us to join our party”.

“Many from the Congress are also in our contact, but we don’t take their kachra (garbage). If we start taking their kachra, 25 of their MLAs will join our party by evening, but we don’t have to get into this competition”.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday attacked his predecessor Amarinder Singh, alleging that he connived with the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP to harm the interests of the state.

Channi, while addressing a public gathering here, also said during his tenure Singh “secured the interests of the Badal family (of the SAD) and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi by jeopardising the interests of Punjab”.

“Due to this reason, Congress MLAs had unitedly ousted him (Singh) from the chair of chief minister,” he said, according to an official statement.

Channi alleged that the new party floated by Singh is also aimed at benefiting the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP, thereby ruining the state.

While quitting the Congress after his “humiliating” ouster from the chief minister’s post, Singh had recently indicated that he was hopeful of a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP, provided the agitation over the three agri laws was resolved in the farmers’ interest.

Singh had on Friday thanked Prime Minister Modi for his announcement that the government has decided to repeal the central farm laws.

The election for the 117-member Punjab assembly is expected to witness a multi-cornered contest among the ruling Congress, the SAD-BSP alliance, the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP.

Reacting to the allegations, Singh ridiculed Channi for his frequent accusations that he had “connived with the Badals” and harmed Punjab’s interests.

Actually, it is the other way round “as Channi had connived with and capitulated before the Badals to save his brother in Ludhiana City Centre case,” Singh said.

“It is a classic case of pot calling the kettle black”, he remarked in a statement here, while adding that “it is not me, but Mr Channi, who had pledged his support and conscience to the Badals to save his brother”.

Two years ago, a court in Ludhiana had discharged Singh and all other accused in the alleged Rs 1,140 crore Ludhiana City Centre scam.

Responding to Channi’s accusations, Singh said, “Although I did not want to join issue with him (Channi), his frequent false accusations have forced me to reveal his capitulations before Sukhbir Singh Badal in 2007 to save his brother who was an accused along with me in the Ludhiana City Centre case”.

Singh said he (as chief minister) had put the Badals behind bars in 2002 and in reprisal they had filed a false case against him, which he fought in courts for 13 years.

Channi himself tried to buy peace with them (Badals) to save his brother and pledged his support to them in the assembly, he claimed.

The former chief minister said Channi, who at that time was an independent MLA, allegedly allied with the Badals to save his brother.

“It is not me who had any understanding with Badals, but you who joined them to save your brother in the same case in which I was also an accused,” he told Channi and said those living in glass houses should not throw stones on others.

“Had I aligned with the Badals and got some understanding with them, as you are accusing me of, I would not have faced the persecution for 13 years”, he reminded the chief minister, while challenging him to deny that he did not capitulate before Sukhbir Badal and begged pardon for his brother.

Accusing the Akalis of ignoring the interests of the Scheduled Castes, Channi said that the SAD have “an unholy alliance with the BSP and have deliberately allotted them weak seats to contest”.

He alleged that the aim of the Akalis is to give advantage to the BJP on these seats.

Training guns against AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Channi described him as “a rumour monger who is least bothered about the state”.

He said that Kejriwal is only making hollow promises whereas his government is delivering good governance and clean administration to the people.

Channi asked the people to not get misled by the “tall claims of Kejriwal and company.”

Meanwhile, Channi said that an “unholy nexus of politicians across party lines” had excluded common man from benefits.

He said that the members of this elite group have a common bond in the form of their own vested interests to loot the state.

“They had been willfully doing this by enjoying the fruits of power in a game of musical chairs where the ruler changes after every five years but power remains in their hands. However now this nexus has been broken and the power is with the common man,” he said.

He said that his government has already reined-in the sand and transport mafia in the state while adding that next turn is of the cable mafia.



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