Navjot Singh Sidhu stirs fresh controversy, says visiting Pakistan better than travelling to South India

Less than two months after courting controversy for hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at a time when India's relation with its neighbour were at its lowest, Navjot Sidhu stirred up a fresh controversy on Saturday, when he drew an unwarranted cultural analogy between Pakistan and South India.

 Navjot Singh Sidhu stirs fresh controversy, says visiting Pakistan better than travelling to South India

File image of Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI

Speaking at a literary festival in Kasol, Sidhu said, "If I go to Tamil Nadu, I don’t understand the language. Not that I don’t like the food, but I can’t take it for long. That culture is totally different. But if I travel to Pakistan there is no difficulty. The language is the same and everything there is just amazing."

The Punjab tourism and culture minister was apparently trying to highlight the cultural affinity Punjab shares with Pakistan. However, by drawing a comparison over the sensitive lingual divide issue, Sidhu, in the process, has perhaps compounded his troubles.

Sidhu also clarified his hug to Pakistan Army chief in his own style. The cricketer-turned-television anchor-turned politician said, "My Jhappi was no conspiracy, it was no Rafale deal... If somebody tells me that they are ready to open the Kartarpur corridor. I mean they said it 400 times that we are ready to open the corridor then this is the way I show affection. I will hug and also kiss them. I care two hoots about people who play dirty politics on that. I have lived my life on my terms."

His comments were aired by CNN-News18 on Saturday.

Sidhu had visited Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, on 18 August. During the visit, Sidhu had hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, triggering a torrent of criticism from the BJP and also from within his Congress party, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Later, clarifying his hug to Bajwa, Sidhu said that while greeting  him, General Bajwa informed him about a sentimental gesture proposed for the Sikhs, after which he hugged the general out of emotions.

Sidhu claimed that Pakistan was considering a proposal to provide free access to Sikh devotees to a historic gurdwara just three kilometres inside Pakistan. However, later, both Indian and Pakistani governments confirmed that "no formal communication" took place on Kartarpur corridor issue.

The BJP had, however, gone hammers and tongs after its former four-time Member of Parliament even going on to call him a Pakistani agent.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 13, 2018 15:38:10 IST