Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday claimed that the state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has "no brains" and he had advised party president Sonia Gandhi five years ago not to induct "this incompetent man" in the party.
In a candid revelation, the former Chief Minister also said despite getting inputs of the involvement of present CM Charanjit Singh Channi and some other Congress leaders in illegal sand mining in the state, he did not act against them out of his "sense of loyalty to the party" and also because he did not get a "go-ahead" from Sonia Gandhi.
In an apparent bare-it-all mood while talking to reporters after announcing the first list of his party's Punjab Lok Congress candidates from 22 constituencies, Amarinder Singh also said he did not act against Mr Channi in a #MeToo case as the woman IAS officer did not pursue her complaint.
Amarinder Singh's newly-launched PLC is jointly contesting the February 20 Punjab assembly polls in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and SAD (Sanyukt).
Asked if he had said he would will fight against Sidhu, the 79-year-old scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family, said, "I had said we will not allow him to win. Because he is a totally incompetent man".
"When the Congress chief had told me (over five years ago) to check how Sidhu was, I had said this man is absolutely unfit to be a member of the Congress party. Yet they went ahead and inducted him," he said.
At loggerheads with Sidhu, who had joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, Amarinder Singh was made to resign last September as the chief minister.
"From day one, I have said the man has no brains. He is just a waste of time. I had said all this to the Congress president when she had asked me how will he suit us (the party)," Amarinder Singh continued.
He recalled how Sindhu once told him in Delhi that he does meditation daily for six hours and he wondered if he was a stable person.
"He told me that he does meditation daily for six hours and talks to God for one hour. When I curiously asked what does he talk to God, he replied 'just the way we talk'," said Mr Singh, adding he had told Sonia Gandhi later that Sidhu did not seem to be a stable person.
"Sidhu was the only minister I dropped because he was totally incompetent. He did not clear and handle his files," he continued.
Replying to a question, Mr Singh said during his four-and-a-half-year tenure as Chief Minister during his second stint, 92 per cent of his poll promises were fulfilled.
"Tell me, what wrong did I do? Had they told me (earlier) to resign, I would have done that. On that day (in September 2021), they (Congress high command) told me in the morning to do so (to step down), I did so by the evening," said Mr Singh.
"Who cares? I am not here to cling to anything here," he added.
Amarinder Singh again spoke about Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi's alleged #metoo case, which, he said, was not pursued by the woman in question.
"The lady was upset and I told her what can I do when she met me complaining against Channi (who was then a minister). She said she was being harassed. I said I am very sorry to hear this and told her to let me talk to Channi," Amarinder Singh recalled.
"Then I called Channi and asked him have you done this. I said I will have to remove you from my ministry if you are indulging in any misbehaviour. He admitted that he did a mistake after which I said you go and meet and apologise to the lady. The lady accepted his apology," he said.
Action would have been taken if the woman officer concerned had pressed on her complaint, he said.
Earlier on Saturday, Amarinder Singh had said Mr Channi's denial of involvement in illegal sand mining was a "total lie" and alleged he had received inputs that the CM had a share in the mafia, along with other Congress leaders and MLAs.
On former IPS officer from Punjab Mohammad Mustafa, booked for allegedly making communal remarks at a public meeting in Malerkotla, Mr Singh said, "That man deserves to be arrested, he is ruining the atmosphere of Punjab."
"That man has no right to be outside and I hope the Election Commission takes notice and he is sent behind the bars," he said.