Chandigarh, Feb 16 (IANS) With a growing clamour on social media seeking his sacking, Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has again put the Congress party and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the back foot with his comments defending Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy which left 49 troopers dead.
The comments saw Sidhu being removed from a popular TV show. However, despite the passage of 24 hours after Sidhu made his comments on Friday and reiterated them on Saturday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had not commented on his utterances.
Informed sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said that there was no move to dismiss Sidhu from the cabinet despite the anger being vented out on him for his Pulwama comments.
Sidhu, who takes every opportunity to harp on his friendship with Pakistan Prime Minister and former cricketer Imran Khan, had said: “Wherever wars are fought and such things (Pulwama type attack) happen, dialogue also continues simultaneously. There is a need to find a permanent solution (to issues between India and Pakistan).”
“Such people (terrorists) have no religion, no country and no caste. When a snake bites, its anti-dote is also snake poison,” Sidhu said, justifying his take on the dialogue between the two nuclear neighbours.
Though Sidhu condemned the Pulwama terror attack on the CRPF convoy, he added that the entire nation (Pakistan) could not be blamed for the actions of a handful people.
“This (attack) should be condemned by all. For a handful people, you cannot blame an entire nation. Those behind the attack must be punished,” Sidhu had said.
Sidhu on Saturday defended his comments claiming that his statement was “deliberately distorted” as the people were scared of him.
In November last year, at least six of the ministers in the Amarinder government had reacted sharply to Sidhu’s comments regarding Amarinder Singh’s leadership made in Hyderabad.
Amarinder himself had made his displeasure known to Sidhu regarding the latter’s visit to Pakistan in November last year. While Sidhu had chosen to go to Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor project at the invitation of Pakistan Prime Minister, Amarinder had declined the invitation saying that Pakistan Army was killing Indian soldiers at the Line of Control (LoC) and conspiring to revive terrorism in Punjab.
Amarinder had gone on record to point out that he told Sidhu that he had declined the invite from Pakistan but Sidhu insisted that he would go in his “personal capacity”.
Sidhu, who was a star campaigner for the Congress party last year in the election-bound states of Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana and Rajasthan, had recently raked up another controversy when he indirectly questioned Amarinder Singh’s leadership by commenting that he (Amarinder) was not his (Sidhu’s) captain (leader).
However, Sidhu later clarified that Amarinder was like a “fatherly figure” for him.
Though Amarinder has welcomed the move by India and Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor project, he has dubbed the whole affair as a “bigger conspiracy” hatched by the Pakistan Army.
Citing the fact that Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had “broken the news of opening the Kartarpur Corridor to Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their prime minister”, Amarinder said that the whole affair smacked of a bigger conspiracy.
Sidhu had tried to hog all the limelight on the Kartarpur Corridor project after breaking the news about it in August last year. “The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence).
“A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by Pakistan Army against India. Pakistan is attempting to revive militancy in Punjab and thus everyone should be wary of all of its overtures, no matter how grand they appear to be,” Amarinder had said earlier.