After Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu sparked a controversy on Tuesday when appealed Muslims to vote in unison in the Lok Sabha elections in order to oust the Narendra Modi government. While addressing a rally in Bihar’s Katihar, Sidhu referred to Muslims as the majority community in the region and said they must stay united and vote to ensure victory for the Congress.
“Main aapko chetavni dena aya hun Muslim bhaiyon, ye baant rahe hain aapko, ye yahan Owaisi jaise logon ko la ke,ek nai party sath mein khadi kar aap logon ki vote baant ke jitna chahte hain.Agar tum log ikkathe hue,ek jut hoke vote dala toh Modi sulat jaega (I have come here to warn you Muslim brother. They are trying to divide you. By bringing in people like Owaisi here and helping a new party form their base here, they are trying to divide your votes. If you all stand united and vote, then Modi can be defeated),” Sidhu said at a Bihar rally.
He also targeted AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi for seeking Muslim votes. Addressing a public rally in Purnia, he said Owaisi wants to win by dividing the Muslim vote in the country.
The comments by former test cricketer at a rally in Katihar, where he was canvassing in support of veteran Congress leader and former union minister Tariq Anwar, drew an angry response from BJP which condemned the "reprehensible act", urged the Election Commission to take "suo motu cognizance" and take suitable action.
A video footage of Sidhu’s comments in the remote area was beamed by TV news channels on Tuesday. The Punjab minister, who has been campaigning for his party in the Seemanchal region of Bihar, appeared to have mixed up Katihar with neighboring Kishanganj where Muslims are in the majority and AIMIM has put up a candidate.
Aap kisko jod rahe the itne saal jab aap BJP mein the? Party zaroor nai hai, lekin Seemanchal ka pichdapan purana hai. Hum isko door karenge inshallah. I've introduced a Bill for a Seemanchal Development Council for ALL of Seemanchal: Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Sikh [1/3] https://t.co/3tUs2PyFAk— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) April 16, 2019
“We strongly condemn the remarks made by Navjot Singh Sidhu. His comments appear to be in sync with the Congress policy of minority appeasement and a consequence of the partys worry of an impending defeat," BJP state party vice-president Devesh Kumar told PTI reacting to the remarks of Sidhu, who was previously with the saffron party.
On the one hand, our party under the leadership of Modi has been working with the motto of 'sabka sath sabka vikas' and on the other hand the Congress has nothing to offer except divisive politics. We condemn this reprehensible act by the Congress leader, Kumar said.
"We would also urge the Election Commission to take suo motu cognizance of his utterances and take suitable action," he added.
(With PTI inputs)