Chandigarh, Sep 18 (IANS) With two union ministers gunning for him on his hug with the Pakistan Army chief and his claims on passage for Indian pilgrims for the Kartarpur gurdwara, Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday defended himself saying External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had assured him that a letter would be sent to Islamabad regarding the corridor.
Sidhu said on Tuesday that Sushma Swaraj, whom he met in New Delhi on Saturday, had assured him that the draft regarding a request for the Kartarpur corridor was ready. He claimed that she told him that the letter would be sent to Pakistan soon.
However, union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, in a statement in New Delhi on Tuesday, said that there was no substance in what Sidhu was claiming.
Badal asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi to “tell what action he will take against Congress minister Navjot Sidhu for betraying the people of the country and misusing Sikh sentiments on the Kartarpur corridor issue to hide his traitorous conduct.
“It is now clear that there is no Pakistan proposal to open the Kartarpur corridor. The same has been officially announced by Sushma Swaraj.
“Now it is clear that Sidhu deliberately lied to the people and claimed he had received an assurance about opening the Kartarpur corridor from the Pakistan Army chief to ward off criticism for hugging the General.
“Now Rahul Gandhi should disclose whether Sidhu went to Pakistan for his friend Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony with his blessings and whether he was also part of the conspiracy to play with the sentiments of the Sikh community.
“If not, then Rahul should expel Sidhu from the Congress immediately for betraying the people of the country and dis-respecting our martyrs,” Badal said.
She challenged Sidhu to show proof of the clearance given by the Pakistan government to open the Kartarpur corridor.
“If Sidhu is such close friends with Imran Khan, as claimed by him, he should tell his friend to give a letter stating his government was ready to open the Kartarpur corridor and we will take up this issue with our government to get it ratified.
“He should also ask his friend to stop the killings on the international border and stop exporting terror to India,” she stated.
Sushma Swaraj, in a letter to Badal on September 15 regarding the Kartarpur corridor, said that the “(Indian) government has been taking up the matter with Pakistan.
“However, Pakistan has so far neither agreed to include visits to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib by the Indian pilgrims under the bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines of 1974 nor has it sent any official communication for establishing a corridor,” the Minister said.
Sidhu had recently written a letter to Sushma Swaraj urging her to take a “positive step” in the matter.
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also criticized Sidhu on Tuesday for hugging the Pakistan Army Chief.