Punjab CM Amarinder not first to call Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan a ‘Khalistani’
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh is not the first one to have labelled Punjab-origin Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan a “Khalistani sympathiser” as a section of his Liberal Party had raised its voice on the issue before the federal elections in the North American country in 2015.
Nearly 4,000 Liberal Party members belonging to the Punjabi-Sikh diaspora from British Columbia had resigned, saying, “They (Liberal candidates) are backed by minorities with extremist agenda and members supporting terrorists.”
It forced Sajjan and prime ministerial candidate Justin Trudeau to deny the allegations. Trudeau said, “Those who missed the nomination (to contest) were complaining.”
Sajjan, who arrives on a week’s trip to India on April 17, also denied any links to any extremist body back then.
The diaspora alleged that the former head of radical outfit World Sikh Organisation (WSO) was supporting Punjabi-Sikh candidates, including Sajjan, in the 2015 elections. Sajjan’s father, Kundan Singh Sajjan, was reportedly an active member of the WSO.
“We think this Liberal Party’s been hijacked by the WSO,” Rajinder Singh Bhela, a long-time Liberal and former general secretary of the Ross Street Temple, Vancouver’s largest gurdwara, said at that time. “The Liberal Party, especially Justin, is in bed with extremist and fundamental groups. That’s why I decided to leave the Liberal Party,” said Kashmir Dhaliwal, a former president of the powerful Khalsa Diwan Society, founded by Sikh pioneers in 1902.
A defensive Harjit Singh Sajjan clarified that he was not a member of the WSO. “I have not heard (anything) negative (about the WSO) from anybody,” he said.
Though the Canadian high commission in Delhi on Thursday termed Amarinder’s remarks “disappointing and inaccurate”, the Punjab chief minister is firm that he will not meet Sajjan during his visit to Punjab, including the Golden Temple, as “he stood by his principled stand of not associating himself with any Khalistani sympathiser”.
Amarinder also blames Sajjan and four Sikh ministers in the Trudeau cabinet for scuttling his visit to Canada to woo NRI voters before the recent Punjab assembly elections.