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Congress divided over Amarinder Singh’s no to Pakistan invite for Kartarpur event

Punjab Jails and cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the Sikh community is thankful to Pakistan’s Imran Khan government for opening up the corridor. But Assembly speaker Rana KP Singh too hailed CM Amarinder Singh’s move saying Amarinder is as true a Sikh as he is a nationalist.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2018 10:15 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
kartarpur corridor,kartarpur corridor issue,amarinder singh
Vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and other dignitaries at the foundation laying ceremony of Kartarpur corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in district Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Punjab on Monday, November 26, 2018. (Sameer Sehgal / HT Photo )

A day after Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh rejected the invite of Pakistan to attend groundbreaking ceremony for Kartarpur Sahib corridor on Wednesday, his stand split the Congress government and the party.

Jails and cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the Sikh community is thankful to Pakistan’s Imran Khan government for opening up the corridor. “They have done so on our request. As a Sikh, I would have attended the ceremony, if invited,” he said.

But health minister Brahm Mohindra hailed CM’s stand saying he has conveyed a strong message in unambiguous terms to Pakistan that “we are not blind to their machinations of disturbing and sabotaging the peace in our country and state”.

“I have seen dark days of militancy in Punjab. Not everyone is optimistic about Pakistan’s intentions. Why are they opening the corridor now,” he said.

Assembly speaker Rana KP Singh too hailed the CM’s move saying Amarinder is as true a Sikh as he is a nationalist. “The Pakistani army will never let peace prevail between the two countries and they can sabotage it anytime,” Rana said.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, who has supported local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu accepting Imran’s invite, saying the corridor opens doors to peace between the two nations, too, did a balancing act on Monday by hailing Captain’s stand.

“It is a principled stand taken in the best interests of Punjab. Amarinder’s concerns are not misplaced, and unlike BJP and Akali Dal leaders, who have hopped onto the bandwagon, he has been steadfast in his stand,” Jakhar said in a statement.

On his party’s stand on Sidhu accepting the invite, Jakhar said the stands taken by Sidhu and CM are not contradictory. “Sidhu is opening Track-II diplomacy with Pakistan and is not going as a government nominee but personal friend of Imran. His contribution towards opening the corridor cannot be undermined. But Amarinder has taken a principled stand as the head of state. The corridor would be held hostage every time there is a terror activity or tension on the borders or infiltration,” Jakhar said.

Sidhu, who does not have many friends in Amarinder’s cabinet and is a lone ranger, remained away from Monday’s stone-laying ceremony at Dera Bana Nanak, saying he does not want to play any politics over the issue and is going to Pakistan with CM’s consent. But the CM rebuffed him for accepting the invite saying it was “his personal thinking”.

First Published: Nov 27, 2018 10:14 IST