WHILE PUNJAB's AMARINDER SINGH government remains tight lipped over its claims that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trashed Quebec's independence movement, New Delhi was quick to rebut the line pushed by a top Canadian official that certain "rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated the embarrassing invitation” to a convicted Khalistani terrorist.
So, New Delhi has effectively said Trudeau's hand-picked National Security and Intelligence Advisor Daniel Jean, clearly known to be the unnamed source behind anti-India statement, was up to no good. But the Quebec reference slipped into Punjab CM's statement is proving difficult for India to defend.
The invitation to Jaspal Atwal, issued by a Canadian MP, for a Delhi reception during Trudeau's trip, was withdrawn after a row erupted over his presence at the Mumbai reception. Canadian media had gone to town with pictures of Atwal with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the PM’s wife.
Diplomatic circles in India see the Atwal episode as a victory of sorts since it pushed Trudeau to the backfoot, forcing him to concede that such an invitation should never have been issued in the first place.
It also strengthened India's case that Trudeau was walking a thin line when it came to forces inimical to India's sovereignty.
The opposition Conservatives in the Canadian House of Commons cornered Trudeau pretty strongly, and poor Trudeau was reduced to find the most lame of the defences when he suggested that when an official of Jean’s rank says something, "it’s because they know it to be true.”
*Top Canadian official said "rogue political elements in India" behind invite to convicted Khalistani terrorist.
* Trudeau backs claims, says officials must have known these to be true
* Conservatives grill Trudeau in House of Commons, he skipped Question Period
* India trashes "rogue elements" talk
* Ram Madhav of BJP says this is "ulta chor kotwal ko daante"
* Madhav blasts Trudeau for mixing pleasure with business
* Will Trudeau use Quebec claim in Punjab govt's official statement to offset damage?
* Experts said Amarinder govt has so far not contradicted Trudeau's public claim that the CM's official statement contained an utter lie on Quebec.
So, when a CM of a province in India says something about what he and Trudeau talked about, should we believe it because he would know it to be true? And since Trudeau has publicly said "it's false," should we rather believe the Canadian version?
The completely unnecessary reference to Quebec in the Punjab Government's official statement issued after a meeting between CM Amarinder Singh and the Canadian premier gave Trudeau a handle to come down heavily to falsehoods propagated in an official statement issued by Indian authorities.
After a statement issued by Amarinder's office claimed that "Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, which he had always pushed back with all his might,” Trudeau directly took upon the Amarinder Singh government, calling any such claim as "false."
In fact, Trudeau minced no words and before leaving India, when asked about Amarinder government's statement, said, "I said nothing of the sort. On the contrary, I have always said I’m very proud of the lessons Canada and Quebec have to share on differences of opinion shared in peaceful ways and pluralism and diversity that is positive for our community.”
Not only did Trudeau effectively say the CM was lying, he claimed he said the exact opposite.
India's Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Raveesh Kumar lost no time to debunk Trudeau camp's claims on Jaspal Atwal and said, "The Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian high commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian high commissioner’s reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable."
While the Atwal episode gave India a handle to corner Trudeau, and he further messed up by backing claims about "rogue elements" in India, the completely unnecessary reference to Quebec in the Punjab Government's official statement could become a handy tool in Trudeau's hands to prove that official statements were peddling falsehoods. It is imperative that Amarinder government refutes Trudeau's public claim about its statement. Already, it is too late.
India’s firm assertion comes a day after Trudeau faced questions from the opposition in the Canadian Parliament over the controversy and reports that he was standing by a senior who suggested that factions within the Indian government were trying to sabotage his recent India visit.
Ruling BJP's top points man, the party's national general secretary and someone who has been engaged with the secret Indian outreach programme with radical Sikh elements in the UK, Canada and other countries, Ram Madhav has also come down heavily against the way Ottawa handled Trudeau's visit.
Responding to a Trudeau regime official blaming "factions in the Indian government” for "sabotaging” his recent trip to India, Ram Madhav, in an article
in the Indian Express of March 1 (Thursday), wrote: "This amounts to ulta chor kotwal ko daante, the thief blaming the police."
"Trudeau could have been a little more serious," Madhav said. Political pundits said it would have been better if Amarinder Singh's press release writers had also heeded the same advice. (Read
TRUDEAU HIT BACK AT AMARINDER https://goo.gl/1Vk1mn
In fact, the Indian version of the Trudeau story is finding some strong play in the Canadian media. Award-winning journalist Terry Glavin wrote
in Maclean, Canada's respected national current affairs and news magazine that is more than a 100 years old, that Trudeau has made such a mess of his India visit that he will be soon making "frantic telephone calls to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, begging for forbearance and understanding." (https://goo.gl/Yr1DNU
While Ram Madhav said Trudeau’s decision to mix a family vacation with official business "ill-advised" and said the visit lasting for an entire week "could have been a shorter and more focused", Terry Glavin termed the charming family pictures from Taj Mahal and sundry other tourist spots as "Trudeau’s absurd fashion-show caravan at every turn as it trundled across India."
Diplomacy experts say while India is in a powerful position now vis-à-vis the rhetoric from Canadian Sikh groups since Trudeau has landed in a soup, any move by Ottawa to use the reference to Quebec will weaken New Delhi's position.
Ram Madhav accused Trudeau of doing domestic "identity politics” on foreign soil, clearly forgetting which party leads the art of identity politics in India. Also, he seems to have forgotten Narendra Modi's Diaspora rallies across the world. Incidentally, Amarinder, a Congress CM, has never taken pains to criticise BJP's identity politics or NaMo rallies.
Trudeau has virtually backed the claim that India was behind the presence of a convicted would-be assassin during his trip to the country last week but is now finding the ground slipping beneath his feet.
Tory House Leader Candice Bergen could not have been more unsparing: "What proof does the Prime Minister have that the government of India did this?"
Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale slammed such anti-India conspiracy theory, saying the allegations are "absolutely and utterly false."
Trudeau was forced to even skip the Question Period in the House of Commons on Monday as the opposition demanded proof.
Diplomacy experts say if Trudeau decided to prove that India trying to sabotage the visit, he may resort to focus on the official statement issued by the Punjab Government which detailed Trudeau's purported reference to Quebec's struggle for independence, referring to violence etc. Trudeau had lost no time in slamming it as a lie, and even before he left India, he told the Canadian journalists, "The reports are false; I said nothing of the sort."
In fact, he said he had always taken a diametrically opposite position that Canada and Quebec have lessons to impart in peaceful ways of dealing with pluralism. The Amarinder government has maintained a stoic silence even days after Trudeau publicly refuted its claim about reference to Quebec.
Ironically, with his strong RSS grounding and belonging to a party in the forefront of practising identity politics in India, Ram Madhav had another sermon for Trudeau when he said the Canadian premier could have avoided too much emphasis on domestic "identity politics” on foreign soil.
Those who remember Narendra Modi's rallies in a number of countries, playing to the NRI gallery, would be having a chuckle at such talk about domestic "identity politics” on foreign soil.
Madhav said Trudeau's advisors should have "properly briefed" their leader "about the sensitivities involved in the relationship, especially on issues like the Khalistan movement."
A senior journalist said perhaps Amarinder's advisors should have taken a cue from Madhav and properly briefed the CM before he made such a claim about Trudeau's stance on Quebec.
New Delhi still needs to explain if it were so sensitive about Atwal being invited to a dinner, how was it facilitating his repeated visits to India in January and August of last year, as also in 1999 and 2002.
Experts hope that the upcoming visit of Sushma Swaraj, India's External Affairs Minister, to Canada will help undo the damage done to the India, Canada relationship to some extent, but only if any more-loyal-than-the-king chief minister or advisor avoids landing into Quebec soup.
Meanwhile, Amarinder Singh, who has been consistently demanding that the Centre should take off names of so many Sikhs from the Black List, would now have to think twice about taking up the cudgels on their behalf, lest everyone reminds him what his anti-Trudeau stance did to Jaspal Atwal.
Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.
Most shared Punjab Today articles:
THE LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati!
THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE
NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty
BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah
MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame
RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience
PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity
Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.