Capt Amarinder Singh today alleged that Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan had requested him to include Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu in the state cabinet, saying that the two former cricketers had been friends for years. “If he doesn’t work, you may remove them,” Khan had allegedly told Capt Singh, the then chief minister of the state.
The captain claimed that he not only turned down Khan’s request but also fired Sidhu from his cabinet. Capt Singh said that Sidhu was of no use, an “absolutely incompetent person, he does not know how to work”.
Capt Singh said he was surprised that the Pakistani prime minister was recommending Sidhu. “I was told that he is friends with Sidhu; so he wants to make Sidhu a minister,” the former Paunjab chief minister, now an ally of the BJP, said.
When Sidhu was asked about this in Chandigarh on Monday, he did not give any answer.
Capt Singh said, “I forwarded these messages to Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi (Vadra). There was no response from Sonia ji on this, but Priyanka allegedly said Sidhu was stupid if he was making Khan send these messages to Capt Singh.
The captain said that Sidhu was still incompetent and useless as a minister. “Sidhu was made a minister in a local government body. He did not move a file in 70 days. I called twice or thrice and said, ‘If you want to do such a thing, then go somewhere else,'” the former chief minister said today.
Meanwhile, Sidhu held a press conference in Chandigarh regarding the survey of the Aam Aadmi Party where he was asked about the claim of Capt Singh. Sidhu said, “This is not the issue of today. I will answer by holding a (separate) press conference (on the subject).”
The BJP targeted Sidhu after the captain’s claim. BJP general-secretary Tarun Chugh said that Sidhu’s links with Pakistani Prime Minister Khan, the ISI that runs the government of the latter and the Pakistan Army have been exposed. Chugh demanded a probe into Sidhu’s tenure as minister and Punjab Congress chief.
Chugh said that the central agencies should probe the role of Sidhu in creating unrest in Punjab. He said that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should explain why they continued to promote and protect Sidhu. He said, “This is a serious issue of national security and in view of the security of the border state, the central agencies must investigate it.”
As the Punjab elections approach, the battle between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Capt Singh has intensified. While Capt says Sidhu is a mole of Pakistan and an “unstable” personality, Sidhu alleges that Capt Singh had “closed the doors of Congress for me. Now he has been thrown out of Congress”.
Sidhu claims none of the 77 MLAs was with Capt Singh. “Even his wife MP Preneet Kaur is not with the captain,” he had said when Capt Singh was still in the party. The captain had shot back, raising questions on Sidhu’s mental state.
Following the allegation of Capt Amarinder Singh, BJP leader and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that since the captain said that there was pressure from Pakistan to include Sidhu in the cabinet, this was a big conspiracy “as neither the INC nor Navjot Singh Sidhu has denied this statement”.
Shekhawat said, “Everyone (in the Congress) has given silent consent to this. This is part of a similar conspiracy not only in Punjab but also in the states where elections are being held and we have demanded action from the Election Commission on such conspiracy.”