A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at close to a dozen locations in poll-bound Punjab including the residence of Punjab Chief Minister’s nephew in connection with an illegal sand mining case, Charanjit Singh Channi on Wednesday said the ED action was a ‘conspiracy’ by the Centre to stop the Congress from contesting the Assembly elections.
Addressing a Press conference, the CM said, “What I have heard is that they wanted to arrest me last night. The courts were kept open till 6 a.m. (because) I will be arrested. My nephew was tortured to bring my name into the case. But when it did not happen then they asked the court to close. I have not met my nephew. We do not even know where he is now. I have been told that those who interrogated him told him that they would not allow us to contest elections,”.
Channi alleged that attempts are being made to stop him from contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections. “This is oppression. We are being forcibly dragged into the case. I have been a minister and MLA but there is no taint on me. But they want to forcibly put a blot on me. I have been told that I will not be allowed to file nomination and contest elections,” he said.
The CM alleged his ministers are also getting threats. Channi alleged Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal was in cahoots with BJP. “That is why no one is joining the BJP after quitting the AAP. Why is the arm-twisting of Congress leaders being done?”
The CM said former CM Captain Amarinder Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia, who was booked by the government recently in a drug case, were all behind this ED case. “They should have raided my house. Why are they going here and there to reach me.”
He said the Centre has been using the ED and other agencies whenever they want to win an election by arm-twisting. “They did this in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. They will not be able to do anything in Punjab.”
The CM said the ED episode was the fallout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state and the alleged security breach. “If the chairs were empty, (at the venue where Modi was due to come) what is my fault? Why is there a vendetta against me? Had I fired at the protesting farmers then it would have been fine. But I didn’t do it. Now, I am paying up,“ he said.
About Rs 10 Crore cash has been seized during the ED raids including about Rs Eight Crore from the premises linked to Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, a nephew of Channi.