Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday credited his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s swearing-in for the decision by the Indian and Pakistan governments to build the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate easy pilgrimage to Sikh devotees to historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib across the border.
Campaigning in Madhya Pradesh, Sidhu said the decision would benefit 15-16 crore Sikhs. Sidhu said his hug was still better than the Rafale deal.
His hug to Pakistan Army chief during the swearing-in visit led to a huge controversy.
“Kam se kam vo rafale deal toh nahi thi,” said Navjot Sidhu on the BJP criticising him during Madhya Pradesh campaign, for hugging Pakistan Army Chief #KartarpurCorridor.
Vo(hug) to rang le aayi, vo to 15-16 crore logon ke liye amrit sidh huyi. Kam se kam vo rafale deal toh nahi thi: Navjot Sidhu, Punjab Minister on BJP criticising him during Madhya Pradesh campaign, for hugging Pakistan Army Chief #KartarpurCorridor pic.twitter.com/UZwHEfaOgi
— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2018
However, SAD president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has dismissed Sidhu’s claim saying, he was just taking credit.
“Who is Sidhu? Sidhu doesn’t have any role in it,” said Badal.
Who is Sidhu? Sidhu doesn't have any role in it: Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD on Centre to write to the Pakistan govt to build Kartarpur Corridor. pic.twitter.com/CeTJR25fpM
— ANI (@ANI) November 22, 2018
Sambit Patra, a spokesperson for the BJP, said he was surprised Sidhu was in Bhopal rather than in the Pakistan cabinet. Instead of thanking the Indian government for its decision, Patra said, Sidhu was thanking the Pakistan army chief.
But Navjot Singh Sidhu did say he was grateful to the government. He tweeted this yesterday.
I thank the Govt. of India from the core of my heart and take a bow! I request the Hon’ble PM of Pakistan @ImranKhanPTI Sahib to take reciprocal steps for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor and spread Baba Nanak’s message of universal brotherhood and peace across the Globe.
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) November 22, 2018
Hug-plomatic victory or not, the creation of a corridor between Kartarpur and the Indian border district of Gurdaspur is significant — it is a long-pending demand of the Sikh community. India first proposed the idea way back in 1999, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was then prime minister, took that famous bus ride to Lahore.
“It is a step in the right direction,” said Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s information minister, as he welcomed India’s announcement that it would begin construction. “We hope such steps will encourage voice of reasons and tranquility on both sides of the border.”