Chandigarh: Under fire from its political rivals over the ED raids, the Congress in Punjab has launched a campaign on social media stating that the entire state is with Charanjit Singh Channi and blaming the BJP-led Centre for trying to defame Punjab’s first chief minister from the scheduled caste community. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday had said it seized cash amounting to over Rs 10 crore, including about Rs 8 crore from a relative of Channi, during raids conducted in connection with an anti-money laundering investigation against illegal sand mining operations in the poll-bound state.
It had also said, “incriminating” documents related to “illegal” sand mining and property transactions, mobile phones, gold worth more than Rs 21 lakh and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakh were also seized during the searches that ended on Wednesday. The Punjab Congress has come out with a social media campaign ‘PunjabChanniDeNaalHai’ and has posted video clips of several persons coming out in support of Chief Minister Channi on its Facebook page.
Channi was appointed as the chief minister of Punjab last September after Congress made Amarinder Singh resign from the post. Opposition parties in Punjab have asked Congress to explain the money recovered from the premises of Channi’s nephew during the ED raids, with BJP’s state unit dubbing the ruling party as ‘GhotalebajCongress’ and ‘CongressChor’.
Under the Punjab Congress social media campaign, party MLA Barindermeet Singh Pahra could be heard in a video lashing out at the BJP and accusing it of trying to defame Channi under a “well-planned conspiracy.” He alleged that the Centre was misusing the ED against its political opponents.
A person from Sri Hargobindpur while criticising the Centre for the ED raids claimed that entire Punjab was with Channi. Several such videos supporting Channi were uploaded on the Facebook page of the Punjab Congress. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been attacking Channi ever since the ED carried out the raids.
AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal had on Wednesday said Channi is not a common man but a “dishonest man” as he sought to corner the Congress leader over the raids.
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma on Thursday had said that the recovery of crores of rupees from Channi’s nephew’s premises has “busted his (chief minister) false image of a humble common man.” Former Union minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had on Thursday said that Channi’s family members had “minted crore of rupees through illegal sand mining during his 111-day stint as the CM”.
Channi on Wednesday had accused the BJP-led central government of hatching a conspiracy to trap him in the case in which raids were conducted by the ED.
The Congress on Thursday had complained to the Election Commission of India (ECI), seeking stern action against the ED officials for carrying out “illegal and malafide” raids to defame Channi and the incumbent state government.
(With Inputs from PTI)