Former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ridiculed Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s tall claims of fighting the sand mafia saying he (Sidhu) had himself led the September rebellion of the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who were involved in illegal mining, thus clearly exposing his own interest in sheltering them.
Considering that many of the Congress MLAs whom Sidhu had led in rebellion against him (Amarinder) had direct or indirect interest or share in the state’s sand mafia, the Punjab Congress president’s credentials in the matter were patently dubious, said the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) chief.
This, coupled with the fact that Sidhu enjoyed hobnobbing with anti-national elements including his close friends in the Pakistan leadership which had even lobbied for his induction to the state cabinet, had exposed Sidhu’s self-interest and his completely apathy to Punjab’s interests, said the PLC chief.
Amarinder claimed he had got a message from Pakistan to reinstate Navjot Singh Sidhu in his government because he was an old friend of their Prime Minister. The former CM said he was told that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will be grateful if he can keep Sidhu in the government.
Rejecting Sidhu’s allegation that he (Amarinder) had failed to take action against the sand mafia during his tenure as chief minister, the PLC leader said not only had he taken all possible administrative steps to check the illegal mining, he had specifically asked the Congress president for directives on acting against the Punjab Congress leaders and members involved in the racket.
Why he was not given the necessary direction to take such action, which had political connotation and significance, was something that Sidhu should ask the Congress leadership if he really was serious about the issue, said Amarinder.
The PLC chief further said that the Punjab Congress MLAs, about whose ties with the sand mafia he had reported to the Congress president, were in direct touch with the party leadership in the run-up to his removal from chief ministership.
What had shocked him was that instead of taking action against these MLAs, who had the support of Sidhu, the Congress high command had chosen to sack him, said the former CM.
Amarinder said Sidhu’s persistent and unsubstantiated attacks against him even after his departure from the Congress showed how insecure the Punjab Congress president was.
In his desperation to undermine his (the former CM’s) political clout and importance in Punjab, Sidhu had even forgotten his own party unit, which was in a state of total disarray with blatant and open infighting, he said, adding that together, Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi were leaving no stone unturned to ensure the wipe-out of the Congress in Punjab.