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Sidhu sparks row by addressing Pak PM as 'elder brother'

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: November 20, 2021 23:05 IST
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Congress' Punjab unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday called Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan his 'bada bhai' (elder brother) during a trip to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara across the border to spark a fresh controversy with the remark drawing condemnation from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Aam Aadmi Party and also within the opposition party.

IMAGE: Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu speaks to the media after returning from Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, in Gurdaspur on Saturday. Photograph: Shanky Rathore/ANI Photo

Sidhu visited the revered Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and offered prayers and stressed on 'opening of a new friendship chapter' and trade between the two countries, days after India early this week reopened the visa-free Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims.


But Sidhu's description of Imran Khan ruffled feathers in India with even his senior party colleague Manish Tewari taking a swipe at the Punjab Congress chief, saying the premier is the 'cat's paw' of the Pakistan deep state that 'drones' arms and narcotics into Punjab and sends terrorists to Jammu and Kashmir.

When Kartarpur Corridor Project Management Unit CEO Muhammad Latif welcomed the former Test cricketer at the zero point and extended best wishes to him and his delegation on behalf of the prime minister, Sidhu was effusive in his praise for his ex-cricket rival.

"Imran Khan is my elder brother. I am greatly honoured. He (Khan) gave us a lot of love," Sidhu is heard saying in a purported video that has gone viral.

Sidhu later dismissed the criticism by the BJP.

"Let BJP say whatever they want...," Sidhu told reporters at the border point in Gurdaspur when asked for his response to the BJP's attack on him.

Sharing the video, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted, 'Rahul Gandhi's favourite Navjot Singh Sidhu calls Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan his 'bada bhai'. Last time he had hugged Gen Bajwa, Pakistan Army's Chief, heaped praises. Is it any surprise that the Gandhi siblings chose a Pakistan loving Sidhu over veteran Amarinder Singh?'

Responding to a media query on Sidhu's utterances, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the country should be paramount for public representatives.

"It is expected that the country should be paramount for all public representatives, whether they say their point in the house or outside," he told reporters in Jaipur.

The BJP hit out at the Congress, saying the opposition party sees terror groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram in Hindutva while it finds a 'bhai jaan' in Imran Khan.

It is a serious matter of concern for Indians, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said as the ruling party seized on the issue to target the Congress.

He claimed that there was a larger design at work, and Sidhu's comments were linked to a number of Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, criticising Hindutva.

Referring to Congress leader Salman Khurshid's statement in his latest book, Patra said the opposition party sees terror groups such as the ISIS and the Boko Haram in Hindutva while it finds a 'bhai jaan' in Khan.

It is being done for appeasement politics as the Congress still believes that there is a section in India which will be happy with praise for Pakistan, he claimed, adding there are no such people in India though.

Patra noted that Sidhu had praised Imran Khan and Pakistan earlier too and had hugged its army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during a previous trip to the neighbouring country.

Noting that Punjab is a border state where Pakistan tries to foment troubles, Patra said it needs a mature and patriotic leadership.

Sidhu is not right for India and Punjab deserves better than him, he said.

Reacting to Sidhu's gesture, Tewari tweeted, '@ImranKhanPTI may be anybody's elder brother but for India he is that cat's paw of Pak Deep State ISI-Military combine that drones arms & narcotics into Punjab & sends terrorists on a daily basis across LOC in J&K.'

'Have we forgotten martyrdom of our soldiers in Poonch so soon,' the MP from Anandpur Sahib said.

Delhi's ruling AAP also attacked Sidhu, calling his remark 'deeply worrying'.

'Deeply worrying that Punjab's ruling party chief & Chief Minister are professing their love for Pak PM & Pakistan--a country that exports terror, executes terror modules, sends tiffin bombs & drones arms/drugs into Punjab,' Raghav Chadha, co-in-charge of the AAP's political affairs in Punjab, said in a tweet.

Sidhu was also effusive in his praise for the former Pakistan cricket captain on another matter.

"I am thankful to PM (Imran Khan) for taking the first step and the other side (India) responded with two steps. I had already said that those favouring the 'laanga' (corridor) would have blessings and those opposing it had no value," he said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2023 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.