Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu with wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu. (PTI/file)
Amid the growing voices within the Congress party against Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu over his jibe at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the wife of former cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, on Sunday came out in his support, saying the statement was being "twisted and taken out of context".
More Punjab ministers on Sunday condemned Navjot Singh, demanding he apologise to the chief minister and "learn how to respect elders". On Saturday, three ministers -- Rural Development and Panchayat minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Revenue and Rehabilitation minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi -- had called for Navjot Singh’s resignation from the state cabinet.
On Sunday, state's Women and Child Development and Transport Minister Aruna Chaudhary said Navjot Singh's remark was "unforunate" and "uncalled for".
On Friday, Navjot Singh had mocked Amarinder Singh in Hyderabad when reporters asked him about going to Pakistan, to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor, despite his disapproval, saying "Rahul Gandhi is my captain. It is he who sent me to Pakistan. Rahul Gandhi is the captain of the captain (Amarinder Singh) also”.
Speaking over the controversy, Navjot Kaur said: “Navjot ji has repeatedly said that Captain Sahab is like his father. We have always made it clear that Captain Sahab's respect and honour is above everything. Sidhu's statements should be read as a whole and not in incomplete bits.”
Amarinder Singh was in the Army and served as a captain during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.
Chaudhary said Rahul Gandhi is the captain of the Congress, while Amarinder Singh is the captain of the party in the state.
"Captain Amarinder Singh is our undisputed leader. He is the captain of the party in the state. He was chief ministerial candidate in the last assembly elections and under him the party returned to power with an overwhelming majority. At the same time, Rahul Gandhi is the captain of the entire Congress, no one is disputing this fact. But what Sidhu has said about captain sahib is unfortunate," she said.
Minister of Forests Sadhu Singh Dharamsot also demanded Sidhu apologise to the chief minister. He also reminded him he was not running a comedy show. Sidhu had been a part of a popular TV comedy show aired in India.
"It seems Sidhu sahib has forgotten that he is a minister. He should know he is not running a comedy show here. He must learn how to respect the elders and seek an apology from the chief minister," Dharamsot said.
Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa continued his attack on Sunday saying Sidhu's tone and the body language towards the chief minister was not appropriate and demanded he apologise.
Sidhu's visit to Pakistan to attend the foundation laying ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor didn’t go down well with Amarinder Singh, who on record on Tuesday, said he had asked the former cricketer to reconsider it. But the chief minister said he acceded to Sidhu's request for permission as he did not believe in stopping anyone from undertaking a "personal visit".
"Sidhu told me he had already committed himself to going. When I informed him of the stand I had taken on the issue, he said it was his personal visit but he would get back to me. But I did not hear from him," Amarinder Singh had said.
Amarinder Singh also claimed he had tried to dissuade Sidhu following a grenade attack on a religious congregation in Amritsar that left three people dead, but he paid no heed. Amarinder Singh had blamed Pakistan's ISI for the attack.
Amarinder Singh had earlier declined Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's invitation to attend the foundation stone laying for the Kartarpur Corridor on the other side of the border, citing continued terrorist attacks in Punjab and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan armed forces.
(With PTI inputs)