Amarinder warns Sidhu advisers against making comments on sensitive issues
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday took strong exception to the recent statements of two advisers of state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on sensitive issues such as Kashmir and Pakistan, warning them against making “atrocious and ill-conceived” comments that were potentially dangerous to the peace and stability of the state and the country. The CM said that these statements were “anti-national”.
The CM urged Sidhu’s recently appointed advisers, Dr Pyare Lal Garg and Malwinder Singh Mali, to stick to giving advice to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president and not speak on matters about which they have little or no knowledge, and have no understanding about the implications these might have on national interests.
The CM was reacting to reported remarks of Dr Pyare Lal Garg questioning his (Captain Amarinder’s) criticism of Pakistan, as well as an earlier statement of Malwinder Singh Mali in which he had called Kashmir a separate state and both India and Pakistan its illegal occupants.
Singh expressed shock at the statements of Mali and Garg, which, he said, were totally misplaced and antagonistic to the stated position of India and the Congress on Pakistan and Kashmir. He urged the Punjab Congress president to rein in his advisors before they end up doing more damage to India’s interests.
“Kashmir was and is an inalienable part of India,” the CM said, adding that with his proclamation to the contrary, Mali had effectively and inexplicably toed Islamabad’s line. “This is totally anti-national,” he said, also slamming Mali for failing to withdraw his statement despite the widespread condemnation it had evoked not only from other parties but also from within the Congress.
Ridiculing Garg’s statement that criticism of Pakistan by him (Amarinder) was not in the interest of Punjab, the CM said that he was clearly disconnected from the ground reality. “The fact, which every Punjabi and in fact every Indian knows, is that Pakistan’s threat to us is real. Every day they are pushing weapons and drugs into Punjab via drones in a brazen attempt to destabilise our state and our nation. Punjabi soldiers are dying at the borders at the hands of Pakistan-backed forces,” the CM said.
He said Garg might have forgotten that thousands of Punjabi lives were lost in the face of Pakistan-backed terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s, but he had not. “Nor have the people of Punjab. And we will continue to do everything in our power to fight off Pakistan’s dangerous games,” asserted Singh, urging Garg not to undermine the sacrifices of Punjabis with irresponsible and politically motivated statements.
When contacted, Garg declined to speak on the matter, saying that he had not seen the chief minister’s statement and would not react before seeing it.
HT could not get a response from Mali despite several attempts.
Tensions between Singh, 79, and Sidhu, 57, have simmered since Sidhu quit the state cabinet in 2019, but flared up in May after the government suffered a legal setback in a 2015 case of police firing on a crowd protesting the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. That was under the Shiromani Akali Dal government headed by the Badals, and Singh was accused by some in the Congress as being soft on them.