As he meets Justin Trudeau in Amritsar today, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will also meet with all six ministers accompanying the Canadian Prime Minister, in a significant departure from his earlier stance linked to the Khalistan controversy.
Mr Trudeau and Mr Singh will have a one-on-one meeting at the Taj hotel before the Chief Minister interacts with other members of the Canadian cabinet, including three Sikh ministers.
“The 20-minute meeting between Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau can take Punjab 20 years ahead. This visit will strengthen India & Canada relations, it is a mutual symbiosis which can transform both the countries,” tweeted Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who accompanied Mr Trudeau to the Golden Temple and later to the Partition Museum in the city.
Amarinder Singh, also known as the Captain, had last year said he was “not interested” in meeting Canadian ministers, making no bones about his criticism of Canada’s soft approach to Sikh extremist groups campaigning for a Khalistan state.
He had made the comments to Shekhar Gupta in April during the visit of Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan Singh.
Asked whether he would meet Harjit Sajjan Singh in Punjab, the Captain had replied: “No. I am not going to go. I’ll put some minister in-charge… I’ll tell you on a matter of principal, I don’t agree on this. There are five ministers there who are Khalistanis and I am not interested in meeting any Khalistanis.
In Mumbai, Prime Minister Trudeau emphasised his support for a united India. “We of course reject violence and hate speech or hateful speech, but at the same time I can reassure everyone that my position, that Canada’s position has not changed. We support one united India,” he said, replying to a question.
He will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
The Canadian premier dismissed a question from a reporter on Monday that he had been snubbed by PM Modi, saying: “I have met with the prime minister in various places around the world and looking forward to sitting down with him on Friday.”