Chandigarh: A group of Punjab ministers and MLAs on Tuesday called for strong action against two advisers of the party’s state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over their “patently anti-national and pro-Pakistan comments”.
The advisers, Malvinder Singh Mali and Pyare Lal Garg, came under severe attack from the opposition and within the party for their recent controversial remarks on Kashmir and Pakistan.
The remarks by Sidhu’s newly appointed advisers were clearly against “India’s interests, and detrimental to national security”, said ministers Brahm Mohindra, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, along with MLA Raj Kumar Verka, in a joint statement here.
The statement came on a day when four ministers and several party legislators raised a banner of revolt against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, saying they do not have “faith” in his ability to honour unfulfilled poll promises.
Earlier, Amarinder Singh had Sidhu asked to “rein in” his advisers and had described their remarks as atrocious and ill-conceived, while Congress MP Manish Tewari on Monday had asked if such people should be kept in the party.
The group of ministers and MLAs on Tuesday demanded stringent legal action against the advisers and 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 leaders also raised questions on Sidhu’s “failure” to put his foot down on such “anti-national and pro-Pakistan diatribe” by his close aides, despite the uproar it triggered across party lines.
They said Sidhu’s “omission” gave ammunition to opposition parties which were quick to recall the PPCC president’s own bonhomie with the Pakistani prime minister and Army chief.
The leaders warned this could cause massive damage to the Congress in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly polls due in less than six months.
The Punjab Congress leaders said Mali’s statement on Kashmir was a dangerous and unacceptable deviation from India’s stated position on the issue.
“By questioning the unanimous 1994 resolution of the Parliament of India declaring Jammu and Kashmir as an integral of India (which was reiterated in 2012), Mali blatantly toed the line of Pakistan which has been trying to stake claim to the region and is in illegal occupation of certain areas, such as PoK,” they added.
Even Garg’s statement countering Amarinder Singh’s criticism of Pakistan reflected strong “pro-Pak leanings”, they added.
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 claimed.
The Punjab Congress leaders also condemned Mali for posting a controversial and highly objectionable sketch of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, terming it another instance of his anti-party stance.