NEW DELHI: The Congress Tuesday said External Affairs Minster Sushma Swaraj should come out with her "version" of what transpired during the meeting with Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to end the controversy over their discussion regarding the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
While Sidhu claimed that Swaraj gave him an assurance that she will write a letter to the Pakistan government on a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, just four kilometres from the Indian border, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal made the counter-claim that he was reprimanded by the external affairs minister for meddling in what should be discussed between the two governments.
Responding to a question over the controversy, Congress' communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said, "We would like to hear from Sushma Swaraj rather than source-based story being planted by the BJP, as to what transpired in a conversation between two people that is Sushma Swaraj and Sardar Navjot Singh Sidhu.
"The Punjab government minister has given his version, why does not the external affairs minister also give "her version" or issue a statement to put an end to the controversy.
"Do the naysayers even realise how important a place of pilgrimage the Kartarpur Saheb corridor is for the minority Sikh community. Instead of berating Sidhu, should not the prime minister be ensuring that our Sikh brothers and sisters are permitted to have 'darshan' of a place which is important for Sikhs?" Surjewala said.
He said the Congress expects the government to be not so "prejudicial" to the minority Sikh community.
Sidhu may have intent, but he does not have the authority to open or not open a corridor, and the responsibility for that finally lies at the doorstep of the prime minister and the Ministry of External Affairs, Surjewala said.
"They should publically say they will not permit any Sikh to go and have 'darshan' or go to 'Guru Ghar' as we call it. No problem -- I am sure Sidhu Saheb will stop at that," he said.
"Why should BJP continue to nurture animosity for a person whom the defence minister also says is extremely popular cutting across lines of different political shades?" Surjewala said.
His remarks came after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that Sidhu's gesture of hugging Pakistan's army chief impacted soldiers back home and asserted that the Punjab minister could have "avoided it".
"Sidhu has a lot of admirers somebody of that stature going there and then hugging the chief of the army, an army about which in India we have very clear feelings, it certainly has an impact on soldiers, it demoralises the people.
I wish Sidhu would have avoided it (hug)," she said during an interaction at the Indian Women's Press Corp (IWPC).