The comments of Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s advisers Balwinder Singh Mali and Pyarelal Garg on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan have now landed the top leadership in Delhi into a bit of a problem.
The fact that the advisers remain brazen and continue to maintain that their comments were not anti-national has given easy fodder to the BJP central leadership against the Gandhis. Sidhu has been handpicked by the Gandhis and appointed as state Congress chief. In an unprecedented move, several media advisers were appointed but they have only ended up landing Sidhu, the Congress and the Gandhis in trouble. Just ahead of the critical Uttar Pradesh elections, where the Congress is fighting to make its presence felt, this is a controversy which they could have done without.
Now, sources say the top leadership is upset with Sidhu and also his advisers for the comment as it will only strengthen the BJP’s resolve to polarise in UP and also fix the anti-national tag to the Gandhis.
As expected, the BJP has blamed the Gandhis for their silence. The Punjab CM, too, is worried that their silence can make things worse as Punjab happens to be a border state. However, the implications are more at the macro level and the matter will drag in the Gandhis.
The BJP has now demanded strong action against Sidhu and his two advisers. BJP’s Sambit Patra, at a press conference, said that “since Sidhu was chosen by the Gandhis, it shows that the advisors have their support.” Opposition Akalis and BJP are seeking action under the Sedition Act.
As per sedition law in India, action can be taken against “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life”.
In a Facebook post last week, Mali had described Kashmir as a “country of Kashmiri people." He had also questioned why Jammu and Kashmir has been “turned into an open jail" and for how long. Separately, he had also posted a sketch of late former prime minister Indira Gandhi, in which she is seen standing near a heap of human skulls with a gun in her hand. A skull is seen hanging from the gun’s muzzle.
Garg, on the other hand, courted controversy for questioning Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s frequent criticism of Pakistan.
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