Captain Amarinder Singh with Aroosa Alam| K Asif/India Today Group/Getty Images
Captain Amarinder Singh with Aroosa Alam| K Asif/India Today Group/Getty Images
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The romance between Aroosa Alam and Captain Amarinder Singh is Punjab’s worst-kept secret.

India clearly has a major problem with hugs. No matter who hugs whom – the hugger and the huggee end up in hot water. Ab dekho – there was our man Navjot Singh Sidhu, doing his bit to improve neighbourly relations with Pakistan by attending his friend Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. Nothing wrong with that warm gesture, right? Never mind that two other, even closer friends of the ‘Kaptaan’, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, decided to be discreet and stay away, making some bahana or the other.

Sidhu bounded across the border eagerly and behaved like an over-enthusiastic schoolboy attending his first ‘adults only’ party. Then came ‘the hug’. Sidhu, clearly carried away by the mood, temporarily forgot that the man he was ‘galey lagao-ing’ with was none other than the Pakistani army chief – Qamar Javed Bajwa. That was it! All hell broke loose and Sidhu got his err…backside whipped. And what a whipping it was, my countrymen!

“I am not a robot,” whined a visibly upset Sidhu, going into elaborate explanations about the ‘emotional moment’ that led to the jhappi (but mercifully, no pappi).

The sound and fury should have ended right there. But no! The debate continued to rage on, with PM Imran Khan calling Sidhu an “ambassador of peace”, after Captain Amarinder Singh, the Punjab chief minister thundered, “It (the hug) was not a nice gesture and was completely avoidable.” Suddenly, the ‘Sherry on the top’, turned slightly sour.

Ajeeb. Very ajeeb.

It’s now a stand-off between the rugged Kaptaan and the burly Captain.

But such is our hypocrisy that nobody is addressing the tigress in the room – Aroosa Begum – often referred to as the ‘First Lady of Punjab’. This is one of Punjab’s worst-kept secrets! Aroosa Alam is a well-accepted hostess in Chandigarh, where she spends considerable time, as the chief minister’s long-term partner from across the border. I was seated next to the lovely lady at a lit fest in Kasauli a few years ago when she was there to attend Amarinder Singh’s high-profile book launch (‘The People’s Maharaja’) in the presence of an elite audience, which included authors and friends from Pakistan. Not a single eyebrow was raised! She spoke graciously and charmingly to everyone, posed for pictures, and left right after the function, leaving a trail of divine perfume behind. The two of them looked like any other elderly couple. Which they indeed are!

Going by published reports, the romantic Captain fell madly in love with Aroosa Alam, way back in 2004 on a trip to Pakistan. She was married, with two sons. At the time she was described as an ‘investigative journalist’, someone who was very well connected with the Pakistani military establishment. Interestingly, her mother, who was popularly known as ‘General Rani’, and often described as the ‘most powerful woman in Pakistan’ for being the “muse and mistress” of Yahya Khan, had left her six children and husband to better run the country! Reportedly, before her elevation, she used to host elaborate parties, with her well-trained dancing girls entertaining influential guests. So much for that.

The big question then, in today’s context, is: What role does Aroosa Begum play in Punjab politics? Or should we generously say she is nothing more than the chief minister’s adored one? The lady who campaigns for him and is regarded as his wife (she resides in his official residence), for all practical purposes? How can the Captain object to Navjot Sidhu’s public hug, when an ambitious lady who still holds a Pakistani passport is an inseparable part of his political and personal life?

Aroosa Alam, in an interview to Hindustan Times, had said, “It’s a sensitive issue… there are fundoos ( fundamentalists) back home… women are in trouble in Pakistan.” How fortunate for the Begum that she has successfully made her life in India. And India has scrupulously followed the ‘live and let live’ philosophy towards the much-in-love couple.

Perhaps, Captain Amarinder Singh should take the same route and back off from the current controversy. Navjot Sidhu has not broken any Indian law, nor committed a crime. He has only behaved like a bit of an idiot. But we are used to that, coming from him.

Shobhaa De is a columnist, social commentator, journalist and opinion-shaper. She has authored 20 books.

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52 Comments Share Your Views

52 COMMENTS

  1. Just watch Shobha De with Vijay Mallya on Coffee with Karan.
    Is she India’s answer to the Pakistani female journalist?!

  2. shoba de, Now a columnist for Shekar Gupta of Fake Coup fame, ultimate Ambani chamcha, he is the guy who threatened Vinod Mehta for exercising his freedom of speech.

  3. This is a really cheap article. Never thought people like Shobha De will stoop so low and write such a lowly article. Or may be they do and are famous for cheap works. Ones personal life is personal even if the person is a politician. Doesn’t understand Indian politics anymore. They make a hue and cry of nothing. Siddhu is an idiot. In any case comparing Aroosa with the Pay Army chief is ridiculous. Pak army is no doubt enemy #1.

  4. Coming from Ms. De, I’m actually appalled by the way she has penned her thoughts so horribly.

    A mistress is a mistress. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim. Period.

    Lastly, Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu is not the idiot here. It’s the writer’s nib. Sidhu and the Pakistani general exchanged humble hugs. Sidhu himself has said on national TV about their Punjabi ties.

    The writer is in a confused state of mind. A horrible attempt at what she thought would be a good satire.

  5. Well, did not know about the Captain. Shocked. Why then did he stir the pot ? Dub. Clearly Sidhu got carried away, it was more a momentary lapse, i do not think he becomes a desh drohi for this hug. Rubbish. While Sunny was pre-booked to England, like Kapil Sidhu should have not gone. But again, he is an over-enthu person, always making news, he just all words & Voice, nothing more. This time instead of making news, he got made. Simple. but Captain CM…..too much…

  6. An issue blown out of proportion for political end. Siddu went to Pakistan on the invitation of his good old friend to share his happiness. In VIP functions it is customary and matter of honour to shake hands or hugg each other and exchange pleasantries. You cannot side step and ignore a person who happens to be in the function. As a matter of fact, in the border Army officers and Jawans of both countries exchange greetings and sweets on special occasions even though an eye to eye situation going on for decades.

  7. The two issues can not be compared. Mr Sidhu has done the blunder and theteafter he has tried to justify the same. He should hv apologised to the nation. Captain Amrinder doing nothing wrong. Loving a woman and hugging a General who is responsible fof violencd in J&K are two fifferent matters.

  8. Ajooba . An un-usual story or fact when I am concerned . Should we call it (Captain and Begum affair ) a personal matter . Can’t. because , as read , if true , she has , even, campaigned for him . Most surprising is , she stays in his official residence . He(Captain) , it seems , would have been ok if Sidhu , rather , would have hugged some one , else, even, of opposite gender or commented . But , in this case , he could have commented as a State Head or as an ex-Army personnel . By the way ,was it a hypocrisy on Captain’s part ?

  9. Shobha De, slandering the Punjab Chief Minister does not absolve the idiot Sidhu for what he did. He is a two bit provincial leader, who should have been educated before he showed up in Porkistan. Ms. De. You are a yellow journalist writing to curry favor with Sidhu and some political party or the other. Presstitute to the core.

  10. Why is the political establishment quiet, if Aroosa Alam plays hostess for Captain Amarinder Singh, knowing of her Pakistani status .

  11. Navjot Sidhu should have stuck to his core competence of entertainment with his vast repertoire of knowledge. As a politician he has to act maturely, moreso in this case, when he just `dashed on` to Pakistan, although at the invitation of his cricketer friend, PM Imran Khan. He should have at least consulted Gavaskar or Kapil Dev, before deciding to go headlong. To add insult to injury, he hugs the Pakistan Army Chief, who is solely responsible for the border skirmises and death of Indian soldiers. As for the article by Shobha De, it is typical of her style and timing – Army Veteran.

  12. some people fail to understand the issues and trivialise it showing their intellectual pen skills..as far as Aroosa is concerned i hope there is not other #raji #aliabhatt in making

  13. In a recent TV interview, Sidhu let the cat out of the bag! He said that when he hugged General Bajwa, it was a Jaat thing! These Jaats of Punjab, including the Captain have no loyalty to India it seems. Sikh history demonstrates considerable martyrdom. Neither of the 10 Gurus were Jaat. Many of the predominant armies (misls) comprised of non Jaats. While sikhs have made huge sacrifices, I would argue that Jaat sacrifice has been minimal. These peasants gained power under British rule for their gardari to India. This gardari is further evident by the acts of Indira’s bodyguard in 1984 and now more recently with the #sidhupakhug. I don’t think it’s intentional in Sidhu’s case. What more can one expect from a peasant class. Punjab desperately needs non-caste/religious politics from its educated classes. The educated folk stay away from politics and gurdwara-politics because sadly in Punjab its considered a dirty game. Until that changes, India will continue to witness sikh-Gardari!

  14. Government should not run for the Retaliation policy, rather should stick to rootout border defence shootout through the policy of peace mission, bilateral dialogue. More the fuel in Sidhu held controversy the more would be Psycho politics effect of negation in foreign relationship betwn two countries

  15. You forget to mention the bachelor party attended by someone at birthday of Nawaj sharif who was responsible for kargil attack

  16. CM should be thrown out with his concubine like any commoner ..that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander …….shame shame on the donkey !

  17. Shoba de, aap ne debate ki Shoba barha di hai. I am sure you know better than most that in politics, you only need to give a hint to the opposition if you want be lambasted, no crime has to be committed.

  18. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist,Barnala(Punjab)

    Very queer and hostile type of political atmosphere is prevalent in all parts of India
    nowadays !

    The standard of political dialogue and debate has reached bitter and lowest ebb !

    Those in Indian politics nowadays at the state and national level are always in search of
    an opportunity to belittle their rivals or rival parties for power, pelf and self ! The leaders
    of all parties alike do not want to spare any chance that comes their way either relevant or
    irrelevant, justified or unjustified to settle scores in a whimsical and subjective way !

    Can we deem it nationalism or pan-country outlook ?

    Ironically, Mr.Navjot Sidhu Punjab Local Bodies Tourism Minister’s recent Pakistan visit and
    his hugging of Pak Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa is being blown out of proportions in futility !

    Are Captain Amarinders, Dr. Sambit Patras not frittering away their energies and time in such
    meaningless utterances ? What sort of patriotism and nationalism are they advocating ?

    An evergreen tip for the artists of all political hues in India ! They must bear in mind one time
    tested dictum :

    ” Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others,”

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  19. Siddhu’s hug might go a long way in softening the pakistani armed forces towards india, ameen. After all its general must have experienced the effects of oxytocin courtesy the jhappi:)
    And look at the side-effect, we got to read a juicy story about amarinder and aroosa:)

  20. Someone please inform Imran Khan that in India we invite Siddhu only for…
    *Comedy shows*
    ????????????????????????????
    I guess Imran Khan has UNWITTINGLY admitted that his election and swearing into office was probably a comedy show, meant to entertain the Pak army… ????

  21. Shobna has rightly called Sidhu an idiot. India and Pakistan need few such idiots who don’t bother about what others think about them when they do something nice..

  22. This is indeed a difficult one. However what the Captain does in his personal life concerns him and his family. As long as there is no dilution whatsoever of his official roles . Sidhu similarly should have gone as an ex cricketer. I wonder though whether the people who vote for the captain are aware of this matter. Are they as broad minded ?

  23. One important issue which shoba de have forgotten to mentioned about emotional moment under which sidhu hugged General i. e. access to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. Mam ask the Sikhs it’s importance.

  24. When Captain Amarinder Singh hugs and possibly kisses Aroosa Alam it is okay. However, when Sidhu attends the inauguration of his friend Imran Khan, and embraces Pakistan Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is an avid fan of Cricket, hell let loose.

    Sidhu is a fine ambassador of peace. His courageous peace initiative taught the coward politicians that you kill your enemy when you love him.

    India is a vast country but with smaller minds.

  25. Strange that the Indian media, all sections of which claim to be fair and fearless. have so far maintained a deafening silence on Punjab’s top public secret: a Pakistani passport holder staying in the residence of the chief minister. Punjab, as they say, is a sensitive border state. But it does not in the least bother even our chest-thumping patriots who go about calling other Indians traitors. Have the BJP leaders, who have been calling Sidhu names since he returned from Pakistan, ever uttered a word against the chief minister’s Pakistani girlfriend?

  26. Ms. De is clearly going on a tangent and off the chart. The issue is whether Sidhu should have embraced the head of the gang of terrorists who are daily conspiring to kill Indian security men and Indian citizens. He claims that this was a private visit and yet all his words and actions were entirely political including when he parroted Imran Khan’s pathetic words of “India taking one step.” Everyone except an imbecile would know that the ball was in Pakistan’s court particularly since Kargil, Pathankot and Uri. Then, as you say, Sidhu behaved like an idiot. You are only half right. Sidhu is an idiot and your article is nearly there also by bringing in Punjab Chief Minister’s private life into this without bringing a security issue, if any.

  27. I think PRINT missed the point. Sidhu was a protégée of none other than the late, Atal Behari Vajpai, who helped Navjot Sidhu get into politics & indeed secure a Raj Sabha seat. On the solemn occasion of Vajpaiji’s funeral Sidhu ‘crossed the line’, went to an enemy country & the icing on the cake was he hugged the Army Chief of Pakistan .Its all very well for him to say that he was on a good will visit for mending fences, etc., but who gave him the authority from the Indian Government? Secondly, he should have got his priorities right & attended his ‘Ustad’ & mentor’s funeral, instead of giving hugs to an army chief of an enemy country.

    • Well HIS mentor wanted peace with Pakistan and launched the friendship bus, so Sidhu just walked in HIS mentors footsteps and tried to fulfill HIS mission. That HIS mentor left the world at the same time AS the oath was takling place was just A tragic Coincidence. Being human is above being Indian/Pakistani/Army chief/ MP…

  28. So now we will all release cats out of the bags.Is Shobha De going to start teh confession right at home? and will we get to hear about everyone in the country.

  29. Siddhu did not behave like an idiot. Hugging in Pakistan is common between men and is nothing more than a courtesy. It should not be blown out of proportion.

    • Hugging the enemy is a problem. If Imran Khan can stay clear out of Paki military then it is fine like Sharif tried. But we all know Paki PMs are all puppets

      • The enemy remains an enemy if you keep it so. By the way, nobody protested when Modi diverted his entire staff and Air One to greet Nawaz Sharif on his granddaughter’s marriage, in Lahore. Bringing gifts of Indian saris and what not. They hugged like old friends, the butcher of Gujarat and the plunderer of Islamabad. Nobody had any problem there. One word stood out in this entire article: “hypocrisy”. And such are the times we live in, when peace loving people with great dreams are termed idiots, and cut-throat murderers are hailed as heroes. Imran Khan is a leader of the people. For once, since the time of M. A. Jinnah, the voice of the people has been heard. Time will bear witness to the change; so glad to be on this side of the border at such a time.

        Appreciate the author’s timely observation.

  30. Oh my God! The CM of Punjab, Captain Amrinder Singh is living together with a a Pakistani lady who still holds Pakistani passport. Why nobody raised any concerns on that. Who knows, she may be a sleeper cell working for Pakistan.

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