Malvinder Singh Mali, adviser to Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was summoned to the state Congress president’s residence in Patiala to explain his recent remarks on Kashmir that it was not a part of India and a controversial sketch of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi holding a gun with a skull on the barrel on his Facebook page, today stood by his statement, stating that whatever he had to say was “final” and he stood by them.
Another Sidhu adviser, Pyare Lal Garg, who had questioned chief minister Amarinder Singh’s frequent criticism of Pakistan for pushing in weapons and drugs in Punjab through drones, was also summoned by Sidhu to explain his conduct.
In a Facebook post, however, Mali said the meeting with Sidhu was scheduled before Amarinder’s reaction yesterday over his posts.
Sources close to Sidhu, however, said both Mali and Garg were reprimanded for their remarks and told to maintain a low-profile till the matter is sorted out. Both could be sacked for their comments after consultations with party in charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat.
“Mali was asked to delete his derogatory post on Kashmir and the sketch of Indira Gandhi with an apology, while Garg has been asked to strictly stick to advice on the development of Punjab. A close watch is now being kept on their social media comments,” a leader close to Sidhu stressed.
Both Mali and Garg were appointed advisers to Sidhu on August 11.
While Mali was more forthright on his remarks, terming them as “final” and the sketch as “old”, Garg said if a government does poorly “then also we criticise it”.
In a strong rebuttal to Mali and Garg, Amarinder had yesterday asked them to refrain making their comments public. In an official statement, Amarinder had castigated Mali's views, referring to them as “atrocious and ill-conceived comments that were potentially dangerous to the peace and stability of the state and the country.”
The Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded a case registered against Mali and Garg for what they termed as anti-India statements.
“When our soldiers are dying on the front to protect the country, the two advisers have been issuing anti-India statements. We demand they be booked immediately for treason,” senior Akali leader Bikramjit Singh Majithia demanded.
The conduct of both Sidhu advisers has not gone down well with Congressmen in the state.
Former Congress general secretary Rajpal Singh said the post of advisers in the party has always been “personal” choices of leaders. “They are appointed as a personal choice. In the majority of cases they have nothing to do with the party or its workings. Most workers don’t even know them,” he said.
Congress MP Manish Tiwari further requested Congress General Secretary in charge of Punjab Congress Harish Rawat to take actions against such people that make comments against India's national interests.
He also advised Sidhu to distance himself from such advisors as “such people cannot be a part of Congress," he said.
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