Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi over cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan.
Hitting out at the Gandhi scion, the Union minister asked him to clarify if he was “hand in glove” with Sidhu, who had triggered a row by hugging Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa while attended the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad.
Kartarpur corridor is an emotional issue for Sikhs. We pray each day to be able to have open darshan of the Gurdwara which remains across the fence. Several of us, including me, have been pursuing with the government to have this corridor opened. pic.twitter.com/zTkVr2Q83Z
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) September 18, 2018
Harsimrat accused Sidhu of going to an “enemy nation” and “betraying” people of India. She further said that the cricketer-turned-politician “played with the sentiments of the Sikhs”.
“I ask Rahul Gandhi that a minister of your party went to an enemy nation, betrayed our people and played with the sentiments of the Sikhs. Was this all done with your blessings? Will you take action against him or are you hand in glove with him?” said the SAD leader.
Talking about the controversy over Sidhu hugging the Pakistani Army chief in Islamabad, the minister referred to Bajwa as one “who kills our people”. She claimed that people in India were very angry with the Congress leader over his actions in Pakistan.
“When he (Sidhu) returned he was shown black flags. Everyone was angry that he went there and hugged someone who kills our people. Instead of apologising, he played with people's sentiments. He said he hugged General as he said Kartarpur corridor will be opened,” said Harsimrat.
She claimed that it was confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs that Pakistan had made no official communication on the opening of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims. She further accused Sidhu of creating an impression that the Indian government was not reciprocating the move initiated by Pakistan.
“I wrote to EAM that it's being portrayed that Pakistan government gave a green signal over Kartarpur corridor and our government is doing nothing from its side. I was shocked when received letter from her stating there's nothing like that. Pakistan government never communicated anything on this,” she said.
Harsimrat referred to Sidhu as a Pakistani agent. She said that the neighbouring country was using him as a puppet, adding that "he is dancing to their tune".
Meanwhile, Sidhu told mediapersons that he had asked the foreign ministry to send a formal request to Pakistan for the opening of Kartarpur corridor. He added that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told him that draft for the same was being prepared.
“We had a detailed discussion during the meeting, explained to her (Sushma Swaraj) about the necessity of opening of the Kartarpur corridor. A formal request should go from India's side. EAM said to me that the draft is being prepared and I will write a letter,” said Sidhu.
This came after Harsimrat claimed that Sushma Swaraj had reprimanded Sidhu for “misusing” the clearance given by the government for his visit to Pakistan.