Controversy surrounding Sidhu non-issue: Cong

Controversy surrounding Sidhu non-issue: Cong

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh with his colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu during a Cabinet meeting in Chandigarh on Tuesday. PTI

The Congress on Tuesday dubbed the controversy surrounding Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's embrace of Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa as a “non-issue” designed to cover up the Modi government's lack of policy on Pakistan.

“Navjot Singh Sidhu is not the issue. The issue is the relationship between India and Pakistan,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters here.

Tewari parried questions on Sidhu's comments that his embrace of the Pakistan Army Chief in Islamabad as an “emotional reaction” and insisted that he had done what his “heartfelt was right”.

“The real issue is the relationship between India and Pakistan, the impact of the India- Pakistan standoff on the larger South Asia and the complete absence of the NDA-BJP Government’s policy towards Pakistan,” he said.

Sidhu embracing the Pakistan Army chief during the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan kicked off a controversy with the BJP terming it as “no less than a crime”.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had rebuked Sidhu's hug of the Pakistan Army Chief and made it clear that the former cricketer had visited Islamabad in his “personal capacity” and not as a representative of the Congress party or the Punjab government.

A section of the party believed that Sidhu should have avoided a visit Pakistan given its testy relationship with India.

“Making him sit next to the “so-called Prime Minister” of Pak-occupied Kashmir, and General Bajwa's presence cannot be a mere coincidence. It was a well thought out plan from the Pakistani side. Sidhu walked into it,” a senior Congress leader said.

The leader said there was a section within Pakistan which wanted to divert attention from the swearing-in ceremony to relations with India.