Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh with Congress president Rahul Gandhi (file)
Facing criticism over his recent Pakistan visit, Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh on Friday said Congress president Rahul Gandhi is his captain, who had sent him there to attend the foundation laying ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
Sidhu's visit didn’t go down well with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who on record on Tuesday, said he had asked the former cricket-turned-politician 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," Singh had said. 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.Singh had blamed Pakistan's ISI for the attack.
However, when asked about the entire controversy, Sidhu said: "Rahul Gandhi is my captain. It is he who sent me to Pakistan." The Congress leader described the Punjab chief minister as a "father figure" to him. Sidhu also said 50-100 Congress leaders greeted him for the visit.
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.
The Congress, he said, had always stood against terrorism, and would never allow anyone to destroy the peace of the country or its people.Terming the situation in Pakistan as "very uncertain and fluid", Singh said nobody knew who was running the government there or what was happening in that country.
"If Imran Khan (Pakistan Prime Minister) is running the government then he should rein in (the Pak army and the terrorist groups). If he cannot do that then he obviously has nothing in his hands," said the chief minister.
"My message is very clear - don't mess with Punjab," asserted Singh, reiterating his warning to Pakistan against any attempt to disrupt India's peace.
Singh also criticised Akali leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal for raking up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots issue on the historic occasion of the foundation stone laying of Kartarpur corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district on Monday.
(With PTI inputs)