Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh announced on Twitter that he would be meeting Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Amritsar during his ongoing visit to India on Wednesday.
The chief minister will hold a meeting with Trudeau and all of his Sikh cabinet ministers right after he visits Golden Temple, where he will be received by opposition leader Sukhbir Singh Badal and other members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) party.
This meeting will come as a surprise given Amarinder Singh’s initial reluctance because of pro-Khalistani stand of some of Trudeau’s cabinet colleagues. When Canada’s defence minister Harjit Sajjan Singh had visited India last April, Singh had said that he would not meet him as a principle because of his views of Khalistan.
Trudeau’s visit has been criticized in his country and the world over for the cold-shoulder treatment he has received from the Indian government during his official visit here along with his family. Instead of PM Modi himself receiving him at the airport when he first arrived, as he has done earlier for other heads of state like US President Obama and Isreal PM Nethanyahu, Trudeau was received by a junior minister from the cabinet instead.
Even when he travelled to Agra to visit Taj Mahal and later to Gujarat to see the Akshardham temple, the Canadian PM was accorded a welcome only ceremoniously and was not received officially by any chief minister or other senior Union cabinet ministers.
His meeting with Punjab’s chief minister was expected, given the large Sikh majority that resides in Canada, but Amarinder Singh held it off until now. Some media reports have gone to the extent of claiming that some back-channel talks between Trudeau’s team and India’s external affairs ministry had been undertaken for facilitation of this meeting.