Punjab Minister and Congress party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is facing severe criticism over his Pakistan visit during which he was seen hugging the neighbouring country’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and spotted sitting beside the President of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The BJP has demanded Sidhu’s immediate suspension from the Congress party. Launching a scathing attack on the Congress party over Sidhu`s Pakistan visit, the BJP said that his visit was “no less than a crime”.
Patra also cornered Sidhu for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and sitting next to President of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) Masood Khan.
“Navjot Singh Sidhu is not just an individual but also a member of a political party and a cabinet minister in the Punjab government. The Congress needs to answer some serious questions in this regard,” Patra said.
Patra also cornered Sidhu for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“Hugging General Bajwa is a bigger crime. General is known for the fact that his intervention has caused multiple deaths of innocents in India,” the BJP spokesperson said.
The BJP used the opportunity to attack the Congress party over statements made by some of its leaders during their visits to Pakistan and asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi whether Sidhu had his permission to go there and whether he would suspend him immediately.
“Salman Khurshid, one of the former minister and diplomat went to Pakistan on 13th November 2015 and said that Pakistan is working towards peace whereas India is hindering the process. On 17th November, Mani Shankar Aiyar gave an interview in Pakistan and asked for bringing down the Modi government. On 21st June 2018, Ghulam Nabi Azad also made a similar controversial statement by claiming that when Indian Army tries to kill terrorists, it hardly kills one terrorist and eliminates 20 civilians,” Patra said.
”Initially, Masood Khan was sitting at the back but was later brought to the front and made to sit with Sidhu. Navjot must have known that this man is the alleged President of PoK. He should have objected from sitting next to him,” Patra added.
Firing salvos at the Congress President, Patra said, “Rahulji, did you grant permission to Sidhu to go to Pakistan? Will you suspend him before his arrival in the country?”.
“Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan is shameful,” Punjab BJP chief Shwait Malik said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal too slammed Sidhu for breaking the “decorum” by visiting Pakistan.
“The whole nation is observing seven-day mourning in the wake of the death of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At this point in time, it becomes necessary that no minister should attend ceremonial functions. By visiting Pakistan, Sidhu has broken the decorum,” said SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema.
The Aam Aadmi Party also did not spare Sidhu for hugging Pakistan Army chief.
“Though it is Sidhu’s personal visit to Pakistan, if he hugged Pakistan Army chief then it is condemnable,” AAP MLA and Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said.
Haryana Health minister Anil Vij termed Sidhu’s participation in the ceremony as an “act of disloyalty” towards India which “will not be endorsed by any patriotic citizen” of the country.
The critical remarks from the BJP spokesperson and other parties came after images of Sidhu hugging Gen Bajwa and sitting next to PoK president and later giving interviews to the Pakistani media were flashed on news channels.
Praising Imran Khan while speaking to the state-run PTV, Sidhu said, “A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change the destiny of the country.”
He hoped that Khan`s victory would be good for the peace process between the two neighbours.
Protests and agitations against Siddhu were also reported from various parts of India.
“How could he (Sidhu) attend Imran Khan`s oath-taking ceremony and hug Pakistan`s Army Chief being Punjab`s cabinet minister when India is mourning the death of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” the protesters shouted in Ludhiana.