Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday to “rein in” his advisers after two of them made “atrocious” comments recently on sensitive issues like Kashmir and Pakistan.
In a statement issued here, Singh warned against such “atrocious and ill-conceived comments that were potentially dangerous to the peace and stability of the state and the country”.
The chief minister, who has been at loggerheads with Sidhu in the past, trained his guns on the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief’s advisors.
He urged them to stick to giving advice to Sidhu and not speak on matters “of which they clearly had little or no knowledge and had no understanding of the implications of their comments”.
Singh was reacting to the reported remarks of Pyare Lal Garg, questioning his criticism of Pakistan, as well as an earlier statement made by Malwinder Singh Mali on Kashmir. Both of them were recently appointed by Sidhu as his advisors.
In a recent social media post, Mali had waded into the issue of revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
He had reportedly said if Kashmir was a part of India, then what was the need to have Articles 370 and 35A.
Singh expressed shock at the “extraordinary statements” of Mali and Garg, which he claimed were totally misplaced and antagonistic to the stated position of India and the Congress on Pakistan and Kashmir.
“Kashmir was and is an inalienable part of India,” the chief minister asserted, adding that with his “proclamation to the contrary”, Mali had effectively and inexplicably toed Islamabad’s line.
“This is totally anti-national,” he said, also slamming Mali for failing to withdraw his statement, despite the widespread condemnation it had evoked not only from other political parties but also from within the Congress.
Ridiculing Garg’s statement that Pakistan’s criticism by him (Singh) was not in the interest of Punjab, the chief minister said Sidhu’s advisor is clearly disconnected from the ground reality.
“The fact, which every Punjabi and in fact every Indian knows, is that Pakistan’s threat to us is real. Every day they are pushing weapons and drugs into Punjab via drones in a brazen attempt to destabilise our state and our nation.
“Punjabi soldiers are dying at the borders at the hands of Pak-backed forces,” he said, dubbing Garg’s remarks as irrational and unjustified.
Singh said Garg may have forgotten about the thousands of Punjabi lives lost in the fire of Pak-backed terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, “but I have not”.
“Nor have the people of Punjab. And we will continue to do everything in our power to fight off Pakistan’s dangerous games,” he asserted, urging Garg not to undermine the sacrifices of Punjabis with his “outrageous, irresponsible and patently politically motivated” statements.