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‘My captain’ remark row: No question of apology but I love the CM, says Navjot Singh Sidhu

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
December 04, 2018 11:23 AM

CHANDIGARH: After days of feud in the Punjab Congress over local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s “Rahul my captain” remark, the party high command finally stepped in on Monday to defuse the crisis as both the former cricketer and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s loyalists tried to cap the row.

A cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named, said the brief from the party high command was clear, “not to flare up the situation”. Sidhu is campaigning for the party in other states. Union ministers are using the face-off between him and Amarinder to take snipes at the Congress. The party cannot afford to let the controversy linger on, he said.
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Sidhu had made the controversial statement at a press conference in Hyderabad on Friday while explaining his visit to Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor despite being advised by the CM to reconsider his decision.

Sidhu, who is campaigning in Rajasthan which goes to polls on December 7, tried to play down the controversy by saying he will clear the air with the CM. But he remained defiant when asked if he would tender an apology or retract his statement, a demand made by many of his cabinet colleagues. “I have said nothing wrong. So there is no question of retracting the statement or tendering an apology. But I love the CM and respect him as a fatherly figure. It’s a family matter and I will sort it out myself, one-to-one, when I meet him,” Sidhu said.

Back home, the ministers who were demanding that Sidhu be booted out of the cabinet, said the issue has been resolved. State rural development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who was the first to demand Sidhu’s resignation, said: “When a son has said he will resolve the matter with his father, who are we to come between the two? All’s well that ends well.”

Three other ministers — Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot — too had demanded Sidhu’s ouster while four ministers had on Sunday asked him to apologise. But no one raised the issue at Monday’s cabinet meeting.

“The matter was not discussed at the cabinet meeting as there were more important issues concerning the state. Also, we could have spoken on it only if Sidhu was present,” sports minister Rana Sodhi said.

The row had erupted after Amarinder, who too received an invite from Pakistan for the Kartarpur corridor ceremony, had turned it down accusing the neighbouring country of sponsoring terror attacks in the state and country. The tension between Amarinder and Sidhu kept simmering and the latter skipped the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab, which was presided over by the CM.

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