Punjab’s former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s seat sharing announcement with the BJP today was accompanied by a shocker – one about his arch-rival Navjot Sidhu and his old cricketing buddy, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Soon after dropping Mr Sidhu from his cabinet, he had received a call from a mutual acquaintance from Pakistan, Mr Singh told reporters today.
“The Pakistan Prime Minister had sent a request, saying if you can take back Sidhu into your Cabinet I will be grateful, he is an old friend of mine. You can remove him if he will not work,” Mr Singh said.
Mr Sidhu, who addressed the media soon after, refused to comment on the matter. “I don’t want to comment on someone who’s a spent force,” he told reporters.
Amarinder Singh, who quit the top post and the party late last year after simmering tension with Mr Sidhu, had dropped him from his cabinet in July 2019 after a very public fallout.
The tension between the two had persisted after Mr Sidhu — who was angling for a bigger slice of power after joining the Congress – failed to get it. His visit to Pakistan — when he was seen hugging their Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at Imran Khan’s oath ceremony — had incensed Mr Singh, a former Captain of the Indian Army.
Even after stepping down as the Chief Minister, Mr Singh had said he would oppose any move to make Mr Sidhu the Chief Ministerial face of the party, saying he has a connection with the Pakistan establishment and would be “a disaster”.
“I have seen Sidhu develop. I am anti his pro-Pakistan attitude. Indian soldiers are being killed on the border, and you go and hug General Bajwa and Imran Khan… If Sidhu is made the face of Congress, I will oppose it tooth and nail,” Amarinder Singh had said.