- Amarinder Singh said he deeply disapproved of the display of affection
- Navjot Sidhu countered, indicating he was wrong-footed by the General
- Mr Sidhu said his conversation with the General started with small talk
Navjot Singh Sidhu's hug for Pakistan army chief has been censured not only by the BJP but also his boss, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. A former captain in the Indian Army, Amarinder Singh made it clear that he deeply disapproved such a display of affection towards the chief of Pakistan army.
Mr Sidhu - the only one of the three former cricketers to accept Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's invitation on his oath ceremony - has been at the receiving end of severe criticism after he was seen sitting next to Pakistan's top leaders, and later hugging General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The cricketer-turned politician had countered, indicating that he was wrong footed by the General.
"If someone (Pak Army Chief General Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we will open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th Prakash Parv, what else I could do?" said the Punjab minister, who returned from Pakistan through the Wagah border this afternoon.
One of the holiest shrines of Sikhs, believed to be the resting place of Guru Nanak, the Gurdwara is just three km from the border. But Pakistan closed it to Indians after army's surgical strikes against terror camps across the Line of Control.
The Captain, however, was not having any of it. "Every day our jawans are getting martyred. To hug their Chief General Bajwa... I am against this. The fact is that the man should understand that our soldiers are being killed. My own regiment lost one Major and two jawans a few months ago and everyday somebody is being shot," Mr Singh said.
He said while the seating arrangement was not in the hands of Mr Sidhu, "It was wrong of him to have shown affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief".
Narrating the sequence of events to NDTV, Mr Sidhu had said the three services chiefs of Pakistan had introduced themselves to the guests and the conversation with General Bajwa had started with small talk.
He went on to say that Pakistan wanted peace - statements, which New Delhi contends, fly in the face of its intelligence agency ISI's support to terrorists. The General then followed it up with the promise to open the corridor to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur. "It was a dream come true," Mr Sidhu had told NDTV.
The BJP had launched a scathing attack on Mr Sidhu even before he reached India.
"Mr Sidhu is not an ordinary man but a minister in the Punjab government. And every Indian has taken this issue very seriously," BJP's Sambit Patra had said, questioning whether Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will suspend him.