Amarinder Singh warns Sidhu's advisors after controversial Indira Gandhi sketch
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday summoned his advisors Malvinder Singh Mali and Pyare Lal Garg to his Patiala residence amid a controversy over their recent remarks. Sidhu will discuss their recent controversial statements on Kashmir, Pakistan, and a controversial sketch of former party chief and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi where she is standing near a heap of skulls holding a gun.
Recently, Mali shared on social media a controversial sketch of Indira Gandhi, where she can be seen standing in front of a heap of human skulls, holding a gun with a skull hanging on it. The sketch was the June 1989 cover of a Punjabi magazine titled 'Jantak Paigam' (Public Message) and its translated tagline read, "Every repression is defeated."
A week before, Mali had triggered another controversy by his comments on Jammu and Kashmir. Mali had said that Kashmir was a separate country and that India and Pakistan were illegally occupying the region.
Mali's recent posts have furthered a divide in the Punjab unit of the Congress party. Party leader and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh described them as "atrocious ill-conceived comments." He also urged Sidhu's advisors to stick to advising and "not speak on matters of which they had little or no knowledge and have no understanding of the implications of their comments."
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema slammed Sidhu over Mali's comment, saying that the posts were not surprising since Sidhu himself hugged the Pakistan Army chief when the "nation was against Pakistan." Referring to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following Gandhi's assassination, BJP national General Secretary Tarun Chugh said Mali's post showed "Congress' heinous game plan during the 1980s" against Sikhs.
Congress MP Manish Tewari urged the party leadership to introspect on whether those who do not consider Kashmir a part of India and have pro-Pakistan leanings should be part of its Punjab unit. Advising Sidhu to keep a distance from his advisors, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said Mali's posts were "objectionable" and the Punjab Congress chief "must ask him to be within his limits."
Sidhu was appointed the President of Punjab Congress on July 23, despite stiff opposition from CM Amarinder Singh and his supporters. Almost all top posts in the state unit are now held by leaders close to Sidhu. He is now eyeing the appointment of Presidents and office-bearers of district units. Sidhu will also try to have more say in the upcoming Assembly elections.