Exclusive | I'm human, not robot: Navjot Singh Sidhu on hug controversy

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Exclusive | I'm human, not robot: Navjot Singh Sidhu on hug controversy

Cricketer-turned-politician and Punjab Tourism and Culture minister Navjot Singh Sidhu spoke exclusively to India Today

Cricketer-turned-politician and Punjab Tourism and Culture minister Navjot Singh Sidhu hooked every bouncer bowled by his critics over his controversial hug with Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday saying he is "human, not a robot" and asked whether late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayees bus ride to Lahore in 1999 and PM Narendra Modi's Pakistan visit in 2015 were "anti-national" activities as well going by his detractors.

In an exclusive interview with India Today TV, Sidhu said that when General Bajwa said Islamabad is trying to open the corridor from India's Dera Baba Nanak to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, in Pakistan, to facilitate journey of pilgrims on the occasion of 550th Guru Nanak's Prakash Utsav, "What do you expect me to do? Turn my back on him? I am a human."

Praising General Bajwa's gesture, Sidhu asked, "Has any Army chief walked up to a person and told him that his spiritual dham would be easily accessible? Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is our Mecca. It is like giving wings to our aspirations. People throng to Dera Baba Nanak and go back with tears. General Bajwa's statement meant the world to me."

The former batsman said, "It is a natural human reaction that you extend a hand to someone when that person extends it too. If someone is giving something without even asking for it, you feel human. We have forgotten to be human since ages."

Buy why the hug? He could have just shaken hands with the General. "Ten thousand people hugged me in Pakistan. Does that make them anti-national? I felt love and affection for every second person that approached me in Pakistan," Sidhu quipped.

On his own Chief Minister Amarinder Singh slamming him for hugging General Bajwa at Pakistan's new PM Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony because "Indian soldiers are getting martyred" at the LoC everyday, Sidhu said, "If the CM says something about me, do I have to react to that?" adding, "Why do you always pick on negative connotations? You haven't said what Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Kumar Jakhar said about me. He said, 'I appreciate what Mr Sidhu has done. He has given wings of aspirations to millions of Punjabis.' Everybody has a opinion in this world; 250 people said positive things. Why do you always pick on negative ones?"

On a day when Khan defended Sidhu's visit and hailed him as an "ambassador of peace", the Congress leader mentioned how the new Pakistani leader praised his 'bravery' for attending the ceremony.

"I went there because of an invitation from a friend [Khan] far off. He hugged me and said, 'You are a brave man. Not many would have come here.' Ultimately, it is the trust factor. Somewhere down the line, you have to trust people and have to walk that one step. All I want is a mass of positive energy flowing to and fro and laying the foundation of peace," Sidhu said.

WATCH | Exclusive: Sidhu defends Pak army chief hug