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Justin Trudeau's meeting with Punjab CM removes misgivings, creates goodwill

February 21, 2018 09:32 PM

Punjab News Express/Satinder Bains
The visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Golden Temple Amritsar has created lot of goodwill and also removed misgivings about Canada government in the mind of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh who had earlier refused to meet Canada's defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan branding him supporter of Khalistan.

Capt Amarinder Singh while welocoming the Canada PM also shaked hand with Harjit Singh Sajjan who had clarified in a statement that he is not supporter of separatist movement. Sajjan who is native of Punjab was humiliated by Capt Amarinder Singh when former visited Punjab last year.

Capt Amarinder Singh during his meeting with Trudeau reported to have raised the issue of Khalistanis who are spearheading the separatist movement from Canada. It is recalled that supporters of Khalistan had opposed the visit of Capt Amarinder Singh to Canada  before Punjab assembly elections in 2017. Capt Amarinder Singh had then expressed his anger and went to an extent of saying that he will not allow NRIs to enter Punjab. It was in this background that Capt Amarinder Singh refused to meet Sajjan during his visit here.

Punjab government has this tile extended red carpet welcome to Canadian Prime Minister as a time when Indian government led by Narender Modi had cold shouldered Trudeau. The SGPC and SAD had also extended warm welcome to the Canadian PM. Canada is house for over 5 lakh Punjabis and 1.25 lakh students. The welcome extended to Trudeau has also political meaning given the large presence of Punjabi people in Canada. In the last assembly elections large number of NRIs from Canada had opposed SAD and Congress in the hope for bringing a change in political culture. Majority of NRIs supported Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which resulted in the secret alliance between Congress and SAD-BJP to keep AAP away from power. Both SAD and Congress wanted to improve ties with Punjabi NRIs and it was a god sent opportunity for both of them.

Capt Amarinder Singh has also claimed that he had taken up with the PM issues of trade and agriculture development for which Trudeau has given a promise. It is very unlikely that Canada government would be able to do much on this front without the involvement of center government. States in India have limited powers to eastablish direct business ties with foreign countries. Capt Amarinder Singh has also handed over a list of nine NRIs wanted in criminal cases mainly targeted killings in Punjab. The repatriation of such fugitives is not in the hand of Canada PM since Judiciary in Canada is very indendent and repatriation is subject to judicial scruitiny and only if center government agencies issue red corner warrants. Punjab CM however has not mentioned the names of drug lords whose names figured in the synthetic drug racket in Punjab in which former minister Bikram Singh Majithia was also named a king pin by Jagdish Bhola-a drug lord arrested by police.

Punjab CM has also failed to take up the issues of NRIs cheating Punjabi girls after marrying them. It was expected that he would urge the PM to bring some law to curb this menance. Capt Amarinder Singh could have used this opportunity to assure the NRIs that their properties in Punajb are safe and they are welcome to invest in Punjab. NRIs hesitate to invest in Punjab due to lack of seucrity and poor road infrastructure and prevailing corruption.

The only positive impact of the meeting is that Capt Amarinder Singh has covered up his previous folly of dejecting Canadian ministers andquestioning the integrity of Punjabi MPs in Canada. Canada is the only country where four turbened Sikhs are made cabinet ministers.
The visit of Turdeau is also important fron that angle. It would help liberal party to strengthen its base among Punjabi community in Canada.

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