Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi today broke his silence on the 2015 sacrilege case and backed the government legal team amid barbs from Navjot Singh Sidhu, who on Friday gave an ultimatum to the Congress, ahead of the state election next year, on continuing as the state chief. The controversy over the 2015 sacrilege case and police firing has escalated ahead of the state elections as the ruling party witnesses continued infighting.
Speaking at an event, Mr Channi, 58, also raised the critical issue of drugs: "Our legal team managed to get permission to interrogate Gurmeet Ram Rahim in sacrilege case. Our lawyers are also fighting the case of drugs in the court and hopefully on November 18, the sealed reports will be opened," the Chief Minister said.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, elevated as the Punjab Congress chief earlier this year in an attempt to resolve the infighting, on Friday said he has taken back his resignation from the post but he gave an ultimatum to the party. He won't return, he said, till the top government lawyer APS Deol was removed.
Mr Deol, who has represented former top cop Sumedh Saini in the sacrilege case, had quit earlier this week but the Chief Minister refused to accept his resignation. This led to an escalated attack from Mr Sidhu.
"When a new Advocate General is appointed I will go to the party office and take charge. How can a lawyer who got bail for Sumedh Saini be Advocate General and a person like IPS sahota be the DGP," Mr Sidhu fumed.
"I have been reminding the new Chief Minister about these issues. Who was the torchbearer in exposing the drugs and sacrilege issue? It was our president Rahul Gandhi. We must resolve these issues," said the cricketer-turned-politician.
Mr Deol today hit back and said the attacks were nothing but "an attempt to malign Congress".
"There is a concerted attempt by vested interests to malign the functioning of the Congress party in view of the coming elections in Punjab for their selfish political gain, by politicizing the constitutional office of the Advocate General of Punjab," Mr Deol wrote in a brief statement.
Punjab has been seeing high drama before the elections as the Congress continues to make attempts to resolve internal differences. Mr Sidhu had earlier openly rebelled against Amarinder Singh before he finally quit as the Chief Minister and the Congress, his party of four decades, to launch his own party.