Everyone was expecting sidhu to be the among first persons to visit kartarpur after reopening but Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu was not part of a delegation led by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi that visited Kartarpur on Thursday, with speculation rife if politics played a part in holding up Sidhu’s visit to Guru Nanak’s final resting place across the border.
According to Sidhu’s media adviser Surinder Dalla, the PCC chief had made all preparations for visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara. Dalla said that Sidhu was, however, officially intimated on Wednesday night that he could visit Kartarpur on November 20 instead of November 18.
Sidhu’s absence from the Channi-led delegation was glaring, especially since the cricketer-turned-politician is widely seen as having played an important role in making the corridor possible. The Sidhu camp hints at politics as being a factor in the leader getting the permission to visit the Gurudwara in Pakistan a day after Gurpurab, which is a celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday and falls on November 19. The jatha led by Channi included ministers from his cabinet as also some MLAs.
Sidhu’s exclusion from Channi’s delegation has once again brought to the fore the differences in the Punjab Congress and especially the tension between Sidhu and Channi. According to sources in the Sidhu camp, the abrupt change of plans betrays a sense of insecurity on part of the present dispensation. They said Sidhu’s presence in the delegation would have brought all the focus on him since amongst all the Congress leaders, he had played the most important part in vocalising the demand for Kartarpur corridor and making it a reality.
Sidhu had last visited the shrine in November 2019 when the corridor was inaugurated. The visit followed an invitation from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Sidhu was amongst the foremost to welcome the Centre’s decision to reopen the corridor ahead of Gurpurab. He had earlier urged the Centre to reopen the corridor.
On a day Channi visited Kartarpur, Sidhu tweeted a compilation of videos showing his own engagement with the issue of making the corridor a reality. The first visuals were from Sidhu’s visit to the Wagah border on August 17, 2018 when he had spoken about the need for the corridor.
Sidhu’s exclusion from the Channi-led delegation also comes in the backdrop of Pakistan crediting Sidhu for the opening of the corridor which makes it possible for Sikh devotees to visit the Gurudwara without a visa.
A Pakistan government website stated that Imran Khan, a friend of Sidhu from their cricketing days, had decided to open the Kartarpur corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev during his swearing-in ceremony and shared the same with Sidhu, who had arrived in Pakistan to attend the event.