Upping the ante against Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Akali Dal and the BJP on Monday urged the Assembly Speaker to initiate a privilege motion against him for his comments in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. In a letter to Speaker Rana K.P. Singh, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party legislators said that Sidhu's statements defending Pakistan after the killing of 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers in the Pulwama attack on February 14 was a breach of privilege of a unanimous resolution moved by the Assembly in this regard.
"Navjot Sidhu spoke against the very essence of the resolution passed by the Vidhan Sabha on the same day by giving a clean chit to the Pakistan government. This was not a one-off event. Mr Sidhu has continued to defend the Pakistan establishment and has now even become the voice of Pakistan's ISI agency worldwide. "This, as per rules, is a gross breach of privilege of the august House and you, Speaker Sahib, as its custodian, must initiate privilege proceedings against Mr Navjot Sidhu immediately," the letter said.
The Assembly saw acrimonious scenes between Sidhu and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia. Both leaders exchanged barbs, called each other names and gestured angrily while being just 2-3 feet away as the SAD-BJP legislators demanded action against Sidhu for his "insensitive" comments after the Pulwama attack. "The SAD-BJP members initiated corrective action because of the grave nature of the act which was bringing disrepute to the Vidhan Sabha and on all its members by their very association with it. It was decided to table a resolution today urging the centre to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and the need to take the strictest possible action against the Pakistan government and its terror machine," the letter stated.
Talking to media here, five-time Chief Minister and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal demanded that a sedition case be registered against Sidhu for his comments. Badal also sought Sidhu's expulsion from the Punjab cabinet for giving a clean chit to Pakistan and its intelligence agencies in the Pulwama terror attack case.
"Navjot Sidhu had committed an anti-national act by stating Pakistan could not be held responsible for the act of terror despite the Pakistan government's open patronage and support to the Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit which has claimed responsibility for the same. A sedition case should be registered against him and he should be proceeded against immediately," he demanded. Badal said it was strange that while Congress President Rahul Gandhi had condemned Pakistan, his party's minister in Punjab was defending Pakistan's terrorist acts on Indian soil.
"The Congress party should make an example of Sidhu or so that in future no elected representative can ever indulge in any act which comprises the security of the nation and disrespects our armed forces personnel," he added. Majithia said the entire country was one in grief after the Pulwana attack but Sidhu was speaking differently.
(With inputs from agencies.)