Diplomacy Centre's prerogative, BJP tells Punjab Minister Sidhu

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New Delhi : Hitting out at Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for drawing a parallel between his visit to Pakistan and that of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP on Tuesday reminded the former cricketer that diplomacy is the Centre's prerogative, not of an individual Minister.

Addressing the media here, BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra also flayed Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the controversy over Sidhu's Pakistan visit on August 18 for the swearing-in of Imran Khan and his hug to Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, on the occasion.

"Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Monday that Sidhu should not have hugged Bajwa... but Sidhu held a press conference and tried to justify it (hug). At whose behest? Of course, at the behest of Rahul Gandhi. Nothing can happen in the Congress without Rahul Gandhi's permission. Thus, we want an answer from Rahul ji," Patra said.

"Gandhi cannot run a government parallel to the government of India. Diplomacy is the prerogative of the central government. It does not come under the state governments. Any individual Minister cannot decide on it," he said.

"Gandhi should have kept in mind that diplomacy cannot be given to anyone in proxy, or it cannot be outsourced. You are out of power and you have to learn this graciously."

Sidhu on Tuesday said that his visit to Pakistan was a tribute to Vajpayee, who wanted peace between the two countries.

Patra said it was not "appropriate" for Sidhu to draw parallels with then Prime Minister Vajpayee since he was only a state Minister.

He asked why Sidhu hugged the Pakistan Army chief who was responsible for butchering Indian soldiers and attempts at revival of the Khalistan movement in Punjab.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader also accused Gandhi of holding "secret meetings" with a Chinese envoy during the 75-day Doklam stand-off starting June 16 last year in the Sikkim Sector.

Patra also took a dig at senior Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar, Shashi Tharoor, Saifuddin Soz, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid for allegedly speaking in favour of Pakistan and against the Indian army.

"Some said the Army kills civilians in Kashmir while other talked about independence for Kashmir. They called India a Hindu Taliban or Hindu Pakistan. Some went to Pakistan to pull down the Modi government," he alleged.

"One Congress leader called our Army chief 'sadak ke gunde'. Our Army chief is 'Sadak ke gunde' and that in Pakistan 'sone de munde'... we are annoyed there are people within the Congress trying to promote Pakistan interests. You are glorifying General Bajwa by saying that here is a man who wants peace and prosperity." the BJP leader said.

"Sidhu tried to tell 125 crore Indians that they have a 'chhota dil' (small heart) because India is not pitching for peace with Pakistan."