Channi's statement on Poonch terror attack a poll stunt, violates MCC: Punjab CEO

| | Chandigarh
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Channi's statement on Poonch terror attack a poll stunt, violates MCC: Punjab CEO

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 | PNS | Chandigarh

Punjab’s former Chief Minister and Congress candidate from Jalandhar Charanjit Singh Channi finds himself in the eye of a storm yet again as he faced a backlash for his recent remarks regarding the Poonch terror attack. Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer Sibin C on Tuesday declared that Channi’s statement terming the Poonch attack as a “poll stunt” violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), prompting call for further action from the Election Commission of India (ECI).

 

The controversy stemmed from Channi’s response to questions about the Poonch terror attack, where he alleged that such incidents were staged as political stunts to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during elections. These remarks, made against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the region, have drawn sharp criticism from various quarters, with Punjab BJP president Sunil Jakhar condemning them as an “insult to the nation”.

 

The development came a day after the Punjab State Commission for Women had sought a report from the state police chief regarding viral video of Channi’s controversial gesture towards the former president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) Bibi Jagir Kaur.

 

Punjab CEO on Tuesday said that his office has written a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take further action against the Congress's Lok Sabha candidate from Jalandhar. “According to a report of the Jalandhar District Election Officer, it (Channi's remark) is the violation of MCC (model code of conduct),” said Sibin C.

 

The Model Code of Conduct, which governs the behaviour of political parties and candidates during elections, prohibits making statements that may incite communal tensions or violate the principles of ethical campaigning. Channi's remarks have not only landed him in hot water but have also reignited debates about the appropriate conduct expected from political leaders, especially in sensitive matters concerning national security.

 

Amidst the backdrop of a recent terrorist ambush on an Indian Air Force (IAF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on May 4, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and injuries to four others, Channi, on May 5, had made controversial remarks during a press interaction. In response to questions regarding the attack, Channi dismissed it as orchestrated theatrics, stating, “These are all stunts, not attacks (Yeh stuntbaazi ho rahi haihamle nahi ho rahe).” He went on to allege that such incidents were politically motivated maneuvers aimed at favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during elections.

 

Facing widespread condemnation for his remarks, Channi later attempted to clarify his stance by expressing solidarity with the nation’s soldiers while directing criticism towards the government's handling of the 2019 Pulwama terror strike. He asserted that the government had failed to conclusively identify the perpetrators of the attack, casting doubt on its ability to address security concerns effectively.

 

Clarifying that his earlier remarks were aimed at “questioning the timing of such attacks”, particularly just before elections, Channi called for a thorough investigation to unmask the “real perpetrators” behind the deadly ambush; also emphasizing that the nation must scrutinize why incidents of this nature occur when the political climate is heated with election fervour.

 

The latest development unfolded just a day after Channi found himself embroiled in yet another controversy surrounding a viral video. The incident, which occurred on May 10, 2024, coincided with Channi’s nomination filing day. During an interaction with SGPC’s former president Bibi Jagir Kaur, Channi made a lighthearted gesture by touching her chin, which quickly circulated online and sparked significant public outcry. Many viewed Channi's action as inappropriate, prompting the Punjab State Commission for Women to issue a notice to the Director General of Police (DGP) seeking prompt action against the former Chief Minister.

 

Addressing the growing controversy, Bibi Jagir Kaur broke her silence and clarified that Channi's gesture was intended as a sign of respect rather than inappropriate behaviour.

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