Updated: November 19, 2021 6:28:28 am
As Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi led a jatha of his Cabinet colleagues, several MLAs, and their families to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib, state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu could not leave with him, with a government functionary blaming it on some “technical glitch”.
Sidhu, who was the first to bring the news of opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor – connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan – in 2019 and stirred up a row, would be paying obeisance at the shrine associated with Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, on November 20.
He would be paying obeisance at Sultanpur Lodhi, another holy place associated with Guru Nanak, on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s Gurpurab on Friday.
While Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who also hold the Home portfolio, said that the lists were prepared at the level of the Union government and the state government had nothing to do with the delay in anyone’s visit, Sidhu’s camp is claiming that the list carrying the PCC chief’s name was delayed at the state level.
Randhawa told The Indian Express, “All names were sent to Centre on Tuesday. I was scheduled to go with the CM but was informed at the last minute that my name was not there in the first list sent to the state by the Centre. I will be going to Kartarpur Sahib on Friday now.”
Eyebrows are being raised on how Randhawa and his aide from Majha, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, are slotted together on Friday. Interestingly, Sidhu and his aides including Cabinet ministers Pargat Singh, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and PPCC working president Kuljit Singh Nagra have also been slotted to go to Kartarpur Sahib on Saturday.
“How does Centre know that Majha brigade should be clubbed together? And how would Centre know that Sidhu and his aides should also go together?” asked an aide of Sidhu.
Interestingly, Channi’s old associate and Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was among the first ones to go to Kartarpur Sahib on Thursday. Others included Vijay Inder Singla, Rana Gurjit Singh, and Harpartap Ajnala were also a part. Channi’s family members and officials of CM’s office also accompanied him.
A functionary in the government said that all the 50 names were sent to the Centre on Tuesday. “However, there were some technical glitches as the portal was made functional after a year and a half. These glitches were expected,” the functionary said.
Sources close to Sidhu said that while the state government had approached Sidhu on Tuesday, soon after the Union government announced opening of the corridor, he is learnt to have received a call from a public relation officer and intelligence officer on Wednesday evening apprising that he could not accompany the CM.
The Centre had allowed the state to take a jatha of 50 to Kartarpur Sahib. “This is when the government approached Sidhu that he would also be going with CM’s jatha. But last night he got a call that he is not going on Thursday. He was told that he would be leaving on Saturday, a day after the Gurpurab. This is sheer insecurity. The previous government was also doing the same. Now, this government is also doing it,” a source said.
He added that it was up to the state government to put up his case for clearance to the Centre. The Centre had already allowed the CM to take 50 people along. He added that Sidhu was shocked last night as he was preparing to leave with Channi.
As the CM’s jatha left for Pakistan, Sidhu tweeted with a video chronicling the developments that took place starting from the demand for opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor. “Guru Nanak’s teachings are the centrifugal force of Sikhism, he is the light house that guides us on the path of Universal Brotherhood, Peace & wellbeing of all. Sarbat da Bhala is our guiding force…The Kartarpur Story: A Compilation”
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