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Exclusive | Kejriwal Alleges Before Polls, Then Apologises. Mulling Defamation Suit: Channi

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi addresses during a 'Vikas Rally', ahead of Punjab elections 2022, at Grain Market in Patiala. (PTI)

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi addresses during a 'Vikas Rally', ahead of Punjab elections 2022, at Grain Market in Patiala. (PTI)

In an interview to News18, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said he has sought permission from the Congress to sue AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal for defamation over remarks made after ED raids in the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has said he is planning a defamation case against AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal for making allegations against him in connection with the Enforcement Directorate’s raids at his nephew’s premises.

In an exclusive interview to News18, CM Channi said his Delhi counterpart was known for making allegations against opponents before elections and apologising once polls were over.

Kejriwal is in a habit of saying things. He is a behroopiya (imposter) and not a credible leader. I have asked the party to let me file a defamation case against him… Whenever elections are around the corner, he makes false allegations. Earlier too, he has made big allegations against many leaders and apologised after elections,” Channi said.

Opposition parties, particularly the AAP, have stepped up attacks on Channi and the Congress in the wake of the Enforcement Directorate raids. On Friday, Kejriwal had said that Channi will be defeated from his Chamkaur Sahib seat in next month’s Assembly polls, while stressing that people were shocked to see crores of rupees being seized from the home of Channi’s nephew.

Replying to Kejriwal’s poll prediction, Channi said in the interview to News18 that he had won from Chamkaur Sahib even as an Independent. “I won here even when I fought as an Independent. I have won three times. Let him (Kejriwal) contest elections here and stand against me,” Channi said, adding that the “buzz” around AAP had failed to materialise into seats in the 2017 elections as well. “AAP has no face here. There is nothing special about them. Last time also there was a buzz about AAP but nothing came of it.”

A News18 Poll of Polls has predicted a close contest in Punjab with edge for the AAP, which has declared Bhagwant Mann as its CM face. Pollsters have predicted 51-57 seats for the AAP in the 117-seat Punjab Assembly. The halfway mark in the state is 59. The Poll of Polls has forecast 38-44 seats for the Congress, while the Akali Dal is tipped to win 17-21 seats. The BJP-Amarinder Singh alliance is predicted to manage only up to three seats.

Channi, however, expressed confidence that the Congress would be back in power and cited his own government’s track record. Channi had taken over as CM in September when Captain Amarinder Singh was acrimoniously ousted from the post amid issues with Navjot Singh Sidhu.

“I haven’t slept for last three months. I did 11 years of work in 111 days. The Congress will form the government,” he said.

Asked about reports of its own tussle with Sidhu over the top post, Channi said he would abide by the party’s decision. “There is no hesitation in the Congress party. It is the prerogative of the party to declare a CM face. Whoever they declare, I will go with that. I am a disciplined soldier of the party,” Channi told News18.

“Sidhu has done a lot, but the public will decide what kind of CM they want. To become a CM, many qualities are needed. The Congress, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are all defending me. I will be with whoever the party makes CM candidate… whether it is Sidhu or (Sunil) Jakhar,” he added.

The CM also questioned the BJP for the controversy over the breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security during his visit to Ferozepur. Channi reiterated his earlier claim that the PM chose not to attend a scheduled BJP rally that day because of poor turnout.

“Has the PM suffered any loss? Nothing has happened that threatens life, he returned safely… There were around 70,000 chairs (at the rally) and even 700 people did not come,” Channi said.

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