Sidhu's Wife Navjot, AAP Leader Mann Question CM Channi's Humble Background Image

Rahul Gandhi had on Sunday declared Charanjit Singh Channi as his party's chief ministerial face for the high-stake Punjab assembly polls, a recognition that was also coveted by Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Sidhu's Wife Navjot, AAP Leader Mann Question CM Channi's Humble Background Image

Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur on Tuesday tore into Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi's humble background image, saying party leader Rahul Gandhi was “misled” to consider him as poor.

AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann too questioned separately Gandhi’s description of Channi as belonging to “gareeb ghar”, asking “from which angle, is he poor”.  

With the Congress picking up Channi over Sidhu as party's CM face for the February 20 polls, Kaur said irrespective of the fact that the cricketer-turned-politician was her husband, he would have been a better choice and would have transformed Punjab within six months. While Bhagwant Mann was speaking to reporters in Bathinda, Kaur was interacting with the media in Amritsar.

Before declaring Channi's name, Gandhi had said, "People of Punjab said we need a chief minister who is from a 'gareeb ghar' (humble family), who understands poverty and hunger. It was a tough decision, you (people) made it easy."

Notably, even Channi during his poll campaigning often refers to his humble background. When asked if Channi will connect with the poor more than Sidhu because of his humble background, Kaur quipped, "He (Channi) is richer than us, he is a very very rich man, his (IT) returns also show that. So, it is not good to label him as poor."

"He has a huge bank balance, which is more than us, and so he is not a poor person," Kaur said. At the same time, she said money is no criteria "for putting a person at such high position".

"I think only your particulars, your merit, your education, your work, your honesty, all these things should be counted. Merit has to be counted, otherwise, the state will never prosper," she said.

When asked if Sidhu would have been a better choice, she replied, "Yes, irrespective of him being my husband. I would have never said so if he was not capable. His (Punjab) Model is so good that within six months Punjab would have been out of this (various problems)."

Asked if she thinks Rahul Gandhi was misled somewhere, Kaur quipped, "Yes". Attacking Channi, Bhagwant Mann, also the AAP’s Pu jab unit president, said, "Rahul Gandhi came to Punjab two days ago and said people of Punjab need a CM who is from a gareeb ghar," AAP leader said.

"That poor person (Channi) who is contesting on two seats from Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadhaur has assets worth crores of rupees,” he added. "Maybe in eyes of Rahul Gandhi Channi is poor," said Mann, asking "from which angle Channi is poor".

Bhagwant Mann also attacked Channi over the arrest of his nephew by the Enforcement Directorate. "The person from whose nephew's house Rs 10 crore is seized and the CM who admits that it was his mistake that he could not keep an eye on his relatives, then how will such a person keep an eye on Punjab," Mann asked. 

Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, the arrested nephew of Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi, has "accepted" that he received Rs 10 crore cash in lieu of facilitating sand mining operations and transfer or posting of officials in the border state, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed in a statement on Monday.

Honey is the son of Channi's sister-in-law and he is in ED custody till Tuesday. Mann said Punjab needs an honest government which only AAP can give. "I have been touring Punjab and people are eagerly waiting for a change and they want to bring AAP to power," said Mann.

The ED had conducted raids against Honey and others on January 18 and seized about Rs 7.9 crore cash from his premises and another sum of about Rs 2 crore cash from a linked person identified as Sandeep Kumar.

Two days ago, Channi had hit out at Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal, saying how can he call himself an 'aam aadmi' (common man) while staying in expensive hotels whenever he visits Punjab. Channi had targeted Kejriwal earlier, calling him a self-proclaimed "aam aadmi (common man) who is least bothered about the interests of commoners."

With inputs from PTI.