Congress leader targets Sidhu’s advisors, urges ‘serious introspection’ in State unit
The bitter factional fights in the Punjab Congress are far from over as Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari on Monday targeted the two advisors of Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and asked if people who don’t consider Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) a part of India and have pro-Pakistan leanings should be part of the party’s Punjab unit.
Mr. Tewari’s attack on the Punjab Congress chief comes a day after Chief Minister Captain (Retd.) Amarinder Singh took strong exception to the recent remarks by Mr. Sidhu’s advisors — Malvinder Singh Mali and Pyare Lal Garg — on sensitive issues like Kashmir and Pakistan.
Mr. Mali is a retired government teacher and political analyst while Mr. Garg is the former registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health and Sciences. Both of them stirred a controversy with their recent comments on social media.
While Mr. Garg reportedly questioned Capt. Amarinder’s criticism of Pakistan, Mr. Mali, in a social media post, is said to have written that “Kashmir is a country for Kashmiri people”.
Mr. Tewari tweeted: “I urge Harish Rawat, AICC Gen Secy in-charge Punjab to seriously introspect that those who do not consider J&K to be a part of India and others who have ostensibly Pro-Pakistan leanings should be a part of Punjab Congress.” He added, “It mocks all those who have shed blood for India.”
While Mr. Sidhu is said to have summoned his advisors over these remarks, the tweet from Mr. Tewari, known to be close to the Punjab CM, once again exposed the faultlines within the Punjab Congress.
Speaking to a news agency, Mr. Rawat, however, said the statements by Mr. Sidhu’s advisors “may have been twisted”. “I had sought information. Sidhu-ji and some others say that statements were twisted. There’s a possibility that political advantage is being sought at the time of polls,” Mr. Rawat said.
Before the Congress high command formally appointed Mr. Sidhu as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, leaders in the Capt. Amarinder camp had pointed out how Mr. Sidhu’s perceived soft corner for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan could pose a problem for the Congress in the run-up to the Assembly elections early next year.
Despite stiff opposition from the Chief Minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asserted herself and appointed Mr. Sidhu as the PPCC chief last month.