Punjab ministers Brahm Mohindra, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, along with MLA Raj Kumar Verka have sought action against Malwinder Mali and Payre Lal Garg
A group of five Punjab Cabinet ministers and some legislators Tuesday urged the party’s central high command to ensure strong action as per the law against state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s two advisers — Malwinder Mali and Payre Lal Garg — for their “patently anti-national” and “pro-Pakistan” remarks.
Punjab ministers Brahm Mohindra, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, along with MLA Raj Kumar Verka, in a statement said, “Remarks by both the newly-appointed advisers of Punjab Congress president Navjot Sidhu are clearly against India’s interests and detrimental to national security”.
Mali had claimed that “Kashmir is a country of Kashmiri people” while Garg had taken a swipe at Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for criticising Pakistan, alleging it is not in Punjab’s interest.
Besides stringent legal action against Mali and Garg, they also urged the Congress national leadership to direct Sidhu to immediately rein in his aides in the interest of the party as well as the country. “The Congress has made many sacrifices for the protection of the nation’s security and peace, as have our soldiers at the borders. Nobody can or should be allowed to undermine these sacrifices and jeopardise the safety of our country and its people,” they emphasised, citing, in particular, the grave implications such statements could have for the border state of Punjab.
The Congress leaders also questioned Sidhu’s failure to put his foot down on the diatribe by his close aides, despite the “justified uproar it has triggered across party lines”. Sidhu’s omission in this regard had given ammunition to Opposition parties, which were quick to recall the state Congress chief’s personal bonhomie with the Pakistan Prime Minister and Army chief, they pointed out, warning against the “massive damage this could cause to the Congress in the run-up to the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls”, which are due in less than six months.
The Congress leaders termed Mali’s statement on Kashmir as “a dangerous and unacceptable deviation from India’s stated position”. By questioning the unanimous 1994 resolution of the Parliament declaring Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of India (which was reiterated in 2012), Mali had blatantly toed the line of Pakistan, which had been trying to stake a claim to the region and was illegally occupying certain areas, they added.
Even Garg’s statement countering CM’s criticism of Pakistan reflected “strong pro-pakistan leanings”, they further said, adding that “anyone not condemning the continuous efforts from across the border to destabilise Punjab and India” was playing into the hands of the enemy. “Drones from Pakistan are dumping arms and drugs into Punjab almost every day. Our soldiers are dying at the border. How can any patriotic Indian not condemn Pakistan’s actions in the circumstances?” they asked.
Such comments, if not punished, had the potential of becoming “a deadly precursor to more anti-national statements, promoted by forces inimical to the interests of India”, they warned, citing the continuous threat from across the border to India’s peace and integrity.
The Congress leaders also condemned Mali for posting a highly objectionable sketch of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, terming it another instance of his anti-party stance.
The statement by the minsters comes a day after party Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari targeted the two advisers of Sidhu and asked if people who don’t consider Jammu and Kashmir a part of India and have pro-Pakistan leanings should be part of the party’s Punjab unit.
Earlier, CM Amarinder Singh too had taken strong exception to the remarks by Mali and Garg and termed them “atrocious”, “ill-conceived” and potentially dangerous to the peace and stability of the state and the country.
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