MAHASHTRA based Shiv Sena on Monday slammed Navjot Singh Sidhu, ex- crickter and now Punjab Minister for Local Government, Tourism and Cultural Affairs, for visiting Pakistan and hugging its Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa saying the action was not in national interest. The cricketer-turned-politician was among the special guests present on Saturday at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony in Islamabad. The Shiv Sena says that Sidhu’s act was a “height of shamelessness” as he hugged the Pakistan Army chief who was supporting insurgency in Kashmir where Jawans were being martyred almost daily.“Nobody called Sidhu a traitor despite his visit to Pakistan amid opposition and the situation (in Jammu and Kashmir), but there are some people who are easily tagged as anti-national for opposing demonetization or criticising Modi,” it said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.It recalled Modi had hugged the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and it was called his “masterstroke”. Though Sidhu was now with the Congress, he had been with the BJP for a long time and “the BJP should introspect where exactly its ‘sanskar’ (teachings) fell short”, it said.
“The Prime Minister is known for taking strong steps, and he could have simply issued a similar ban against those who wished to visit Pakistan,” the Sena mouthpiece said..Sidhu’s “shameless” visit to Pakistan is not just a subject of the Congress, but is also a question of India’s security and pride of its soldiers. Cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev had declined the invitation to attend Khan’s swearing-in, but Sidhu went there “jumping like a frog and exposed his fake patriotism”, the SHIV Sena said. The Sena said if the Punjab minister had so much affection for Pakistan, he should contest election from there.“He has already received an offer from a Member of Parliament of the Pakistan-Tehreek-i-Insaaf, Khan founded and led party to contest election from there,” the Sena claimed. It was Imran Khan who created an atmosphere of “Dharmayudh” (holy war) during India-Pakistan cricket matches and delivered several venomous speeches against India during election campaign. The Sena claimed his elevation to the post was going to increase India’s “headache”.“Who is going to benefit from Imran’s elevation? He is just a mask; it is the Pakistan Army who are the defacto rulers in that Islamist nation. Then (in that context), Sidhu hugging its Army chief is a crime,” Saamana said. The pro-Hindu party wondered what action would Congress president Rahul Gandhi take against his party leader and claimed that during Khan’s swearing-in ceremony, it looked like Sidhu was not a guest but the host of the event. Even if Sidhu had not gone there, the ceremony there, the ceremony would have taken place.“His actions are weakening Rahul Gandhi’s position,” the Marathi daily said.“Had Sidhu been a true patriot, he would not have gone to Pakistan and certainly would not have hugged that country’s army chief,” The mass circulated Marathi daily. (Image courtesy: The Tribune Chandigarh)