Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday lashed out at Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, claiming that the Punjab minister is more concerned about his friendship with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan than India’s well-being.
Kejriwal said that Sidhu’s statements about the Pulwama attack, in which 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed, had hurt public sentiments, PTI reported. “It seems for Sidhu, friendship [with Khan] comes first and then the nation,” the Delhi chief minister told reporters on the sidelines of Aam Aadmi Party MLA Baljinder Kaur’s wedding reception.
Sidhu and Khan are former cricketers. Sidhu has appeared positive about India-Pakistan relations since Khan became prime minister last year, and visited Islamabad for his swearing-in ceremony. The visit had led to criticism in India.
On February 15, he had called the killing of 40 CRPF 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.
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”.
Khan, in a statement on Tuesday, said Pakistan will investigate the attack if India provides “actionable evidence”. However, he added that Islamabad will retaliate if New Delhi attacks.