Chandigarh, April 13 (Punjabkhabar Bureau): Dubbing the Canadian Defence Minister a “Khalistani sympathiser’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh yesterday said he would not meet the Indo-Canadian during his expected visit to India later this month.
“Harjit Sajjan is a Khalistani sympathiser, and so was his father,” Amarinder said on journalist Shekhar Gupta’s “Off the Cuff’ on a private channel.
The Chief Minister said there were, in fact, five ministers in the Justin Trudeau government who were Khalistani sympathisers and he would not have any truck with them. “These Khalistani sympathisers had prevailed upon the government to prevent my entry into Canada, where I wanted to go to meet my Punjabi brethren and not to campaign for elections,” said Amarinder.
'Punjabis worldwide are proud of their elected representatives in Canada and Sajjan is an example of personal accomplishment for the entire Punjabi diaspora. He should not be disrespected in this manner'
Lashing out at Amarinder over his statement on Sajjan, Former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal asked Amarinder not to act petty and spiteful and give the defence minister of a sovereign country the respect he deserves. Sajjan is a highly decorated Canadian soldier.
(The Canada High Commission has condemned the comments made by Amarinder. It also asserted that Canada greatly values its relationship with the people and the government of Punjab, and look forward to further advancing this relationship.
“We regret that the Chief Minister of Punjab is unavailable to meet with Canada's Minister of Defence. The Chief Minister is welcome to visit Canada,” the high commission said in response to media queries.
Sajjan is scheduled to travel to India next week during which he will hold talks with the leadership as well as speak on “conflict prevention and peacekeeping in changing world” on April 18 in New Delhi).
“Amarinder should not have let a personal incident cloud his judgement and he should have refrained from making disparaging remarks against Sajjan as well as all other Punjabi representatives in the Canadian Parliament. Punjabis worldwide are proud of their elected representatives in Canada and Sajjan is an example of personal accomplishment for the entire Punjabi diaspora. He should not be disrespected in this manner”, Sukhbir said in a statement.
The SAD president said taking such stands was counterproductive and would not augur well for Punjab and come in the way of trade and bilateral relations with Canada. “Moreover it is not in the fitness of things for senior political leaders to show such rancour. One can take a lesson from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was denied visa by the United States but that action did not make him bitter to that county. In fact, Modi has gone out of the way to improve relations between India and the US. Punjabis worldwide also expect Amarinder to behave in a similar fashion and show political statesmanship and use his office to improve relations with Canada, not ruin them. If the Union government and states are giving due deserved respect to Sajjan, so should Amarinder and the Punjab government. This is the least which is expected from them considering Sajjan is from their state”, he added.