New Delhi: Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, while attacking the BJP government on Wednesday, said that his exchange with Bajwa was just a hug and not a Rafale deal. "You start raking up this issue again. Sidhu has become such an important person that the defence minister makes a statement...It was just a 'jhappi' (hug)...It is not a conspiracy, 'jhappi' is not Rafale deal, 'jhappi' is not firing bullets at Gursikhs," Sidhu said, retorting to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that Sidhu’s gesture was demoralising for the Indian Army.

Sidhu met foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday and urged her to initiate a dialogue with Pakistan for the opening up of the Kartarpur corridor. Sidhu said that the finance minister assured him of writing to Pakistan. "I explained about the necessity of opening of the corridor. She heard me and told me that a draft is being prepared and she will write a letter to Pakistan government," Sidhu said.

Sidhu and Union Minister for Food and Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal have been embroiled in a clash of words regarding the incident. Badal took to Twitter and said that Swaraj had reprimanded Sidhu and cautioned him on ‘misusing’ the political clearance granted to him for visiting Pakistan to attend Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as prime minister. Sidhu has dismissed all allegations while Badal continued to call him out for using Sikh religious sentiment for his political agenda. "He (Sidhu) said he hugged General (Qamar Javed Bajwa) as he said the Kartarpur corridor will be opened. But the truth is that no Pakistani government has so far communicated anything on this... Weeks passed, but the Congress minister couldn't produce any document to support his claim," Badal said

Minister of State for External Affair, General (Retd.) VK Singh on Monday clarified that India has not received any proposal from Pakistan to open the route between the two countries. "Nothing has come from the government's (Pakistan) side. This issue has been going on for a very long time. If anything comes about we will let you know," Singh said.

When Sidhu returned from Pakistan on September 7, he said, “There can be no bigger happiness than this for the people of Punjab”.

On Wednesday, the Imran Khan government said that there was no official word on behalf of Pakistan on Sikh pilgrims’ direct access to the Kartarpur gurudwara along the India-Pakistan border in 2019; leaving the cricketer-turned-politician red-faced.