After Pakistan Prime Minister and friend Imran Khan praised his role in the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, reports have emerged that Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu didn’t accompany Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and his cabinet to Kartarpur Gurudwara Darbar Sahib visit on Thursday (November 18).
This is seen as an extension of the ongoing war for supremacy in the Congress between the chief minister and the Punjab Congress president.
Sidhu’s media advisor Surinder Dalla, said that the Centre granted him permission for Kartarpur visit on November 20. Dalla said that Sidhu had made all preparations for going to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara on November 18 where he was supposed to go with the Punjab CM and cabinet ministers. In fact, Sidhu had submitted his application on Tuesday for travelling to this historic shrine in Pakistan to offer prayers.
Dalla hinted if the Punjab government excluded Sidhu’s name from the list of visitors of Kartarpur. According to Dalla, Sidhu had submitted all documents with Punjab government on Wednesday but even then he was excluded from the jatha. “Only Punjab government has the answer because there is no issue from the Union ministry’s side. So whatever is the mistake, it seems to be from the Punjab government’s side,” Dalla told the ANI.
The 4.7 km long corridor was closed during the Covid 19 pandemic which has been reopened by the Centre ahead of Prakash Parva of Sri Guru Nanak Dev. The Gurudwara is situated in Pakistan.
Punjab CM had announced his cabinet is set to visit Kartarpur Sahib as the first delegation on November 18 after reopening the corridor ahead of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev. He also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for fulfilling the demand for the reopening of the corridor. Other than his cabinet, a number of MLAs, officials of the Punjab government and other dignitaries are set to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
I warmly welcome the decision to reopen the Sri Kartapur Sahib Corridor on the auspicious occasion of 552nd Parkash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. This laudatory step has fulfilled aspirations of millions of devotees who’ve been deprived of ‘Darshan Didare’ due to COVID pandemic.— Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) November 16, 2021
But it is quite unlikely for Sidhu to join Channi on the Kartarpur trip given their tense relationship. Sidhu’s dislike for Channi is well known. Sidhu criticized Channi on some key appointments including advocate general APD Deol and he forced the chief minister to remove Deol. Now Sidhu nourishing chief ministerial ambition has launched a fresh attack on Channi government for not taking strong action against the growing drug menace in Punjab.
Hon’ble HC supplied a copy of STF report on Drugs to the Government but instead of proceeding as per law, we are sitting on STF report since Feb, 2018. Even we have failed to extradite the other accused in this multi-crore Drugs case. Solution is to catch & punish the big fish.— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) November 17, 2021
Sidhu even invariably criticized the Channi government for financial mismanagement in Punjab as he tweeted Punjab is the most indebted state in India.
Pakistani website praises Sidhu for his role in the opening of the Kartarpur corridor
While Imran Khan and Sidhu keep praising each other, the Pakistani website kartarpurcorridor.com.pk has mentioned Sidhu and claimed that he had played an important role in the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.
The website claims Imran Khan, during his swearing-in ceremony as Prime Minister of Pakistan decided to open Kartarpur Corridor as a gesture of goodwill for the Sikh Community on the 550th Birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Dev. “The idea was shared with the Indian legend Sikh cricketer Sardar Navjot Singh Sidhu who attended the “Swearing In” ceremony of Prime Minister of Pakistan. On 28 November 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the Ground Breaking Ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor,” it says.
However, BJP has stated that the Modi NDA government had initiated dialogues with Pakistan for this corridor right after 2014. On November 26, 2018, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu had laid the foundation stone of the project on the Indian side whereas on November 28, 2018, Imran Khan and Sidhu had joined the groundbreaking ceremony on the Pakistan side. Sidhu was invited to Pakistan by the PM Imran Khan for the ceremony.
During the inauguration ceremony, Sidhu heaped praises on Pakistan PM Imran Khan and even compared him with King Alexander.
“PM Modi also reciprocated the gesture but the initiative was put forth by Imran Khan. Alexander the Great had conquered the world with brute force but you, Imran Khan, you have won the hearts of 14 crore Sikhs and the entire world with love,” Sidhu had said.