Punjab Assembly session: Sidhu, Majithia exchange sharp words
Sharp words were exchanged between Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and former Shiromani Akali Dal Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the Assembly on Monday as Akali-BJP MLAs targeted Mr. Sidhu over his recent remarks on the Pulwama terror attack.Wearing black badges on their arms to register their protest, SAD-BJP MLAs shouted slogans against Mr. Sidhu for his recent remarks on the Pulwama terror attack and demanded his ouster from the Cabinet.As SAD-BJP members continued their sloganeering in the House, Mr. Sidhu and Mr. Majithia were seen involved in an agitated verbal duel, personally attacking each other even as Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal stood up to present the annual Budget.While Mr. Majithia repeatedly kept asking for the sacking of Mr. Sidhu from the Cabinet for his “anti-national stance”, Mr. Sidhu was seen shouting at Mr. Majithia, directing remarks on his alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.Speaker K.P. Rana asked Akali Dal-BJP members not to disrupt the House proceedings, but they continued to shout slogans. They also flashed photographs of Mr. Sidhu in which he is seen hugging the Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Amid the uproar, the Speaker named Akali Dal-BJP members present in the House and asked the marshals to escort them out of the House. The House was then briefly adjourned.Earlier, before the session started, the Akali Dal-BJP MLAs staged a protest outside the Assembly and burnt Mr. Sidhu’s pictures with General Bajwa on his visit to Pakistan last year.“The Congress party should come clean on its stance on the Pulwama terror attack. While a unanimous resolution was passed in the Assembly condemning the attack, Mr. Sidhu is saying Pakistan can’t be blamed,” said Mr. Majithia.Mr. Sidhu, later told the media, “Terrorism has no religion, no nation. Terrorism will not be tolerated and all those responsible should be punished.”Referring to the 1999 hijack of an Indian Airlines flight and the Kandahar episode, Mr. Sidhu said, “Who released those involved in the 1999 Kandahar incident? Whose responsibility is it? Why can’t there be a permanent solution? Our fight is against those who were responsible for the 1999 attack and it’s my fight as well.”Later, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at the Akalis for targeting Mr. Sidhu, saying the Akali Dal had clearly lost all sense of morality, as evident in their efforts to reduce the House proceedings to a mockery.“Instead of playing the role of a constructive opposition, they are repeatedly resorting to petty political tactics to remain in the media glare,” said the Chief Minister.“The rowdy behaviour of the attention-seeking Akali leaders and members in the Assembly has become a routine thing, suggesting that it is nothing but a drama aimed at garnering public support and votes,” he added.Former chief minister and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal, meanwhile demanded a sedition case to be registered against Mr. Sidhu, besides expelling him from the State Cabinet for giving a ‘clean chit’ to Pakistan in the Pulwana terror attack case.Talking to journalists, Mr. Badal said that Mr. Sidhu had committed an anti-national act by stating Pakistan could not be held responsible for the act of terror despite the Pakistan government’s open patronage to the Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit which has claimed responsibility for the same.