Chandigarh, April 22 (IANS) Former Chief Minister and Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh has been forced to cancel his political rallies in Canada following objections raised with the Canadian government.
“On the request of the Foreign Ministry of Canada, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Capt. Amarinder Singh, has cancelled his plans to hold political rallies in Toronto and Vancouver,” Amarinder’s spokesman said here.
The spokesman said Amarinder Singh was informed by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishanker that the Canadian rules, under Global Affairs Policy, prevent foreign governments and individuals from conducting election campaigns in Canada.
“Since his political conference could have violated the rules of the host country, he has decided to cancel them,” the spokesman said.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a human rights advocacy group, had lodged a complaint with the Canadian government against the election activities planned by Amarinder Singh.
“By targeting Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) living in Canada, canvassing for their votes and holding fundraising events in Toronto and Vancouver, Amarinder Singh would be in violation of Canadian government policy,” the SFJ said.
Amarinder Singh said in a statement that he had cancelled his earlier scheduled “large interactions” with the people, where he could not have avoided making political statements, but would be meeting the Punjabi diaspora during his six-day visit to Canada that begins on Saturday.
“Since the host country does not allow such events, I thought it was better to cancel them,” his statement said.
“I would, however, look forward to meeting my fellow Punjabis in their homes and small groups to ensure the compliance of the host country’s laws,” it added.
Amarinder Singh, whose wife Preneet Kaur was union minister of state for external affairs in the previous UPA government, had embarked on a 20-day visit to the United States and Canada on April 19 to muster political and financial support from Punjabi NRIs.
He met Punjabi NRIs in Chicago, US, this week.
NRIs from Punjab have a considerable presence in the two countries and have been supporting political parties and leaders from Punjab, especially during election times.
Punjab is due to vote early next year to elect the state’s 117-member assembly.