A day after Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was slammed over his jibe at Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Sunday defended him saying that his remarks are being twisted and taken out of context.
The former BJP MLA said that Sidhu has not committed any mistake that he should resign. "Navjot Sidhu's heart is clean. He has not committed any mistake that he should resign. He has already said Capt sahib (Amarinder) is a father-figure to him. If outside Punjab, he said Rahul is the captain, what is wrong in that? He has not called (Narendra) Modi his captain. He is only calling Rahul his captain. And Capt Sahib's (Amarinder's) captain too is Rahul, isn't it? Since Navjot and I joined the Congress, we always showed full respect towards Capt Sahib (Amarinder)," news agency PTI quoted Kaur as saying.
Several Punjab ministers condemned Sidhu over his jibe at Amarinder Singh demanding an apology 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 Sidhu's resignation from the state cabinet.
On Sunday, state's Women and Child Development and Transport Minister Aruna Chaudhary said Sidhu's remark was "unforunate" and "uncalled for".
"What Navjot Singh Sidhu said about Capt Amarinder Singh is unfortunate. Such things should not have been said by him," she said.
Amarinder Singh was in the Army and served as a captain during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.
Chaudhary said, "Capt Amarinder Singh is our undisputed leader. He is 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 captain of entire Congress, no one is disputing this fact. But what Sidhu has said about captain sahib is unfortunate."
Two days ago, Sidhu 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.
"Rahul Gandhi is my captain. It is he who sent me to Pakistan. Rahul Gandhi is the captain of the captain (Amarinder Singh) also," Sidhu had then said.
Minister of Forests Sadhu Singh Dharamsot Sunday 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.
Bajwa, along with Revenue and Rehabilitation minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, had Saturday said if Sidhu didn't consider Amarinder Singh his captain he should quit the chief minister's team.
On Sunday, Bajwa said, "Sidhu sahib has said that Capt Amarinder Singh is not his captain, he said that he is Army's captain. The tone and body language used by Sidhu towards the chief minister is not appropriate. It shows disrespect towards the CM. If Sidhu doubts Capt Amarinder's leadership, his ability, then it becomes his moral duty to resign."
"The speed at which he is going may cause an accident," he said of Sidhu. "I want to request Sidhu that he apologise to the chief minister and matter will end."
Sources said the issue might come up during the state cabinet meeting on Monday. The row over the trip escalated in the state even as Sidhu backtracked on his claim that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was involved in his decision to attend the ceremony. "Get your facts right before you distort them, Rahul Gandhi Ji never asked me to go to Pakistan. The whole world knows I went to Pakistan on Prime Minister Imran Khan's personal invite," Sidhu had tweeted on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the BJP too took potshots at Sidhu, dubbing him a "man of U-turns". "When Sidhu was in the BJP, he hailed the contribution of Atal Behari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley. He used to ridicule (former PM) Manmohan Singh by terming him 'Mouni Baba'. He is a man of U-turns. It seems his lust for power would end with accepting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as his Captain," BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh said. "He should be sacked immediately."
Union Minister and senior BJP leader from Punjab Vijay Sampla said Sidhu has "lost mental balance" and wants to remain in news with such remarks.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect the shrine in Pakistan to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Gurdaspur and give visa-free access to Indian pilgrims. Sidhu's visit to Pakistan had riled Amarinder Singh, who said he tried to dissuade Sidhu, following a grenade attack in Amritsar that left three people dead.