New Delhi: The BJP today hit out at Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his “deplorable act” of hugging Pakistan Army chief at the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, and asked Rahul Gandhi if he would suspend the leader for doing so.
Speaking at a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) President Masood Khan was seated next to Sidhu but the latter did not object to it.
The Congress, however, downplayed the matter.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala did not reply to a question on the Punjab minister embracing Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the event today.
Asked to comment on Haryana minsiter Anil Vij’s statement that Sidhu was attending the oath taking event amid fanfare at a time the nation was mourning, Surjewala said, “You should not take him seriously. It will be better”.
Patra, however, said Congress had committed a “big crime” and it cannot wash its hands off the issue by describing it as an “individual’s act”.
“This is a very serious issue. Congress president Rahul Gandhi should hold a press conference and say if he supports Sidhu’s act. If not, what is the action he is taking? Will he immediately suspend Sidhu before his arrival back home? The country wants a clear answer,” the BJP leader said.
He also demanded the Congress president’s response as to whether the party had granted the Punjab minister permission to participate in the oath taking ceremony.
Patra said if the present government had not permitted Sidhu to attend the event, it would have been accused of being “intolerant”.
Sidhu is the only Indian to attend Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. He was seen sitting next to PaK chief and hugging Bajwa at the event.
Patra also wondered as to how Sidhu could forget the death of innocent civilians and jawans because of Bajwa.
He said while Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde had accused the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS of being “Hindu terrorists”, the Congress leaders have not only praised Pakistan but have criticised India from their soil.
The BJP spokesperson was referring to senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s statement at a seminar in Pakistan in 2015 where he reportedly said Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not want peace with Pakistan though the PM there was in favour of peace.
Mani Shankar Aiyar (Congress leader) also said that the Modi government should be unseated. Besides, Ghulam Nabi Azad also spoke against the Army, Patra alleged.