The Congress on Monday said political leaders should voice their views in sync with the “public sentiment” and the “thought process which is uppermost in the country”. The statement comes after Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu faced criticism for his comments following the Pulwama terror attack.

“There is, of course, complete freedom of speech in this country, but everybody, especially in public life, a worker or other wise, owes it to himself and to the nation to speak, act and express totally in sync with and in keeping with a feeling, a public sentiment, a thought process which is uppermost in this country,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi at a press conference.

Singhvi said he did not think anyone had the freedom to cross the limits of that public sentiment and it is a “matter of self-imposed discipline and maturity”.

On Friday, Sidhu had called the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel a “cowardly act” but had asked if an entire nation could be blamed for the actions of a handful of people. This was viewed as a defence of Pakistan and led to severe backlash. A day later, Sidhu said his comments were distorted.

On Monday, Sidhu also appeared to blame the ruling party for the attack when he brought up the release of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar in 1999. The Indian government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, had released Azhar and two other militants to secure the lives of 161 passengers held hostage on an Indian Airlines flight in Kandahar in December 1999.

On the Pulwama attack, Singhvi said one should not indulge in a “blame game at this sensitive point”, while arguing that there were “legitimate matters of concern” regarding the attack. He said the Centre must look into these matters and fix responsibility.