Rai Bareli, Sep 07, 2018 : Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Friday attacked the Congress party over Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s recent controversial visit to Pakistan during which he hugged the neighbouring country’s Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and was spotted sitting near PoK President.
The firebrand BJP leader also questioned Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s stoic silence on the Sidhu’s recent Pakistan visit, which evoked sharp criticism for his warm hug to General Bajwa – the man who is believed to be behind the recent surge in cross-border firing, infiltrations and attack on security forces and civilians in J&K.
“Congress chief kept mum on Sidhu Sahab’s trip to Pakistan. Now, what will Congress chief say after Sidhu has returned from Pakistan and Pakistan is speaking against India,” Irani said in Rae Barely.
Accusing the Congress party of a doublespeak, Irani said, ’’His (Rahul) silence is understandable, as on one side there is Sidhu goes and hugs Bajwa who is speaking against India and, on the other hand, it is Mani Shankar Aiyar whose candidature cancellation during Gujarat polls was just an eyewash.”
It may be recalled that Navjot Singh Sidhu – a Congress leader and minister in Amarinder Singh government in Punjab – had gone to Pakistan to attend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. Upon his return, Sidhu had to face intense criticism for giving a hug to Gen Bajwa and sitting near PoK President during the event at the President House in Islamabad.
The remarks from Irani came hours after Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa vowed to avenge the blood of the country’s soldiers being shed on the border.
While addressing the Defence Day ceremony in Rawalpindi to mark the 53rd anniversary of the 1965 war with India, the Pakistan Army Chief said, “We will avenge the blood flowing on the border.”
The remarks were made in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan who had earlier said that the country favoured good relations with India and wanted to resolve disputes, including Kashmir, sitting across the table.
“Our armed forces and the entire nation have learned much during their service to Pakistan. Fear and terrorism were thrust upon us. Our homes, schools, places of worship, recreational sites and national institutions were attacked,” General Bajwa said.
“We have sacrificed a lot but our job is not done…war is still ongoing…We have to make Pakistan reach a level where no one can look at us with an evil intent,” he added.
Attacking Navjot Singh Sidhu and the Congress party, the BJP had said that his visit to Pakistan was no less than a crime.
Iraani, who was in Rae Barely, also attacked the Gandhi family for the "lack of development" in its electoral stronghold.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli in the Lok Sabha and Congress president Rahul Gandhi holds the adjacent Amethi seat, where Irani herself contested unsuccessfully in 2014.
She accused the two Congress leaders of failing to develop their own constituencies, claiming that 70 to 80 per cent of houses there are still made of mud.
The people in the area had no expectations of its development, she told reporters after visiting the Modern Coach Factory here.
Irani had last visited Amethi on September 1 when she inaugurated an ambitious digital project launched by the Centre in Pindara Thakur village here.