pakistan began peace initiative, sidhu tells pak channel

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Sidhu, on November 28, attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor. The Kartarpur corridor will link Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India with Kartarpur Gurdwara. Sidhu attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the corridor on November 28

Leaders of the BJP and Congress have since been exchanging barbs

If Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's praises for Imran Khan during and after his recent Pakistan visit were not enough, a short clip of his interview to a Pakistani news channel has surfaced wherein he said that it is Islamabad which has always led from the front when it comes to peace initiatives with New Delhi.

"The credit goes to the 12 crore people, who have faith in Guru Nanak and his blessings. The credit also goes to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and it also goes to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Par pehel hamesha Pakistan ne ki [But it was Pakistan that always made the first move]," Sidhu said, in reply to a Neo TV host who appreciated him for the initiative to make the Kartarpur corridor a reality.

"When Pakistan received a reciprocal message from India, the Pakistan prime minister [Imran Khan] said he'd do it [lay the foundation for the corridor] on the 28th [of November]. When a man keeps his word, you cannot doubt his character. Faith is not easy to earn," he further said.

Sidhu, on November 28, attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, which will link Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India with Kartarpur Gurdwara, where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life. Sidhu says he went to Pakistan on Imran Khan's personal invitation.

Leaders of the two major parties of the nation -- the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress -- have since been exchanging barbs.

While the BJP believes Sidhu has insulted India, the Congress party has been defending his visit -- with a few Punjab ministers as exception, who have now started demanding his resignation.

Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, a BJP spokesperson, tweeted the video of the interview and asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh if he agreed with Sidhu.

"If you don't agree you should ask for his resignation," he tweeted.

The row over the visit escalated even as Sidhu did a volte face on his claim that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was involved in his decision to attend the ceremony.

"Get your facts right before you distort them, Rahul Gandhi Ji never asked me to go to Pakistan. The whole world knows I went to Pakistan on Prime Minister Imran Khan's personal invite," Sidhu tweeted.

Joining the chorus on Sunday was External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who, when asked about the controversy, said she would not be able to comment on the issue as it was a major tussle between "the three captains in the Congress party."

For the unversed, the first captain Swaraj refers to here is the Punjab chief minister himself, known as Captain Amarinder Singh. The second is Sidhu, who chose to visit Pakistan despite Singh's opposition.

The third is Rahul Gandhi, who Sidhu referred to as the captain in one of the his earlier statements.

"My captain is Rahul Gandhi, who is also his [Amarinder's] captain. Wherever I went, it was with his approval," Sidhu had said, when quizzed about Singh's disapproval.

Sidhu had added that at least 20 Congress leaders asked him to go to Pakistan. "The central leadership [of Congress] asked me to go.

Angry over Sidhu's comments, several Punjab ministers asked for his resignation. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), BJP's coalition partner in Punjab, has also demanded Sidhu's resignation.

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