Adopting an aggressive posture on the summons issued to him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi hit out at the Bhagwant Mann government, claiming that he was being maligned by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to divert attention from its failure on several fronts in the last one year.
Channi had earlier been summoned to appear before the Vigilance Bureau in a disproportionate assets case on Wednesday but now has been given time till April 20 to appear before it on his request. Speaking exclusively to News18.com, Channi lambasted the AAP government, alleging that such summons were aimed at “harassing” the top leadership of the Congress.
“It is an attempt to defame the top leadership of the Congress. The work that I have done in the 111 days of my tenure as CM, the present government is not being able to match up to that. So it is by these steps that they are threatening and defaming us,” said a belligerent Channi who had so far maintained silence on the latest summons.
Channi had kept a low profile, but with the issuance of the summons, he seems to have gone on the offensive. “The charges are trash. If they would have had anything significant, they would have taken action. But they have nothing. It’s just that they want to harass the senior leadership,” he said.
Ahead of the May 10 Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll, the Congress is trying to turn the summons against Channi into an electoral issue by siding with him even as associates had alleged that the leader had been “sidelined” by the party’s top brass.
Coming out in support of Channi, PPCC chief Amarinder Raja Warring said that since AAP was losing ground in the run-up to the Jalandhar election, it was resorting to a witch hunt. Besides Channi, former ministers Brahm Mohindra and Vijay Inder Singla have been issued notices by the Vigilance Bureau.
Referring to “attempts being made to implicate Channi”, the Congress leader maintained that the present government was anti-Dalit and was targeting the Dalit leadership of the party. “Be it Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, or now Charanjit Singh Channi, this regime has nothing to show against them and is just satisfying its ego to punish the Dalit population who did not vote for AAP,” Warring said.