Congress leader Harish Rawat today apologised for his controversial comments comparing Navjot Sidhu and team to “Punj Pyare“, a term of reverence for Sikhs. He also promised to atone for the blunder by offering his service at a gurdwara.
“Sometimes while showing respect, you use words that are objectionable. I too made the mistake of using the term Punj Pyare for the Punjab chief (Mr Sidhu) and his working presidents. I am a student of history and the Punj Pyara cannot be equated with anybody. I apologise for hurting sentiments. As penance, I will go to a gurdwara in my state and clean the complex with a broom,” Harish Rawat, the Congress’s Punjab in-charge, said today.
Mr Rawat, whose comments about removing Mr Sidhu’s advisers over their ill-advised comments on Kashmir and Pakistan worsened the infighting in the party, had described the Punjab Congress chief and his working presidents as “Panj Pyaras” inducted into the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh.
“It was my responsibility to meet with the PPCC (Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee) chief, or I would say the Panj Pyaras…,” Mr Rawat had said in Chandigarh yesterday, with Mr Sidhu by his side.
Mr Sidhu had been deeply offended by Mr Rawat’s comments on his advisers.
The comments, apparently aimed at mollifying Mr Sidhu, provoked a sharp reaction from the Akali Dal, which accused Mr Rawat of “hurting religious feelings” and demanded an apology from him.
“Harish Rawat must take his words back and apologise to the Sikh Sangat,” said party spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema.
“Mr Rawat compared his party leaders with Panj Pyara, a term highly regarded by Sikhs… a very unfortunate comment coming from the party’s Punjab affairs in-charge… the Congress leaders should not make such light comments,” Dr Cheema said, urging the state’s Congress government to file a case against its leader.