‘Chill out’: Australia’s Anthony Albanese shuts reporter over question on calling PM Modi ‘the boss’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday told a reporter to “chill out” when he was asked whether he regretted calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “the boss” recently, amid Canada’s allegations that the Indian government may be linked to the murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.(REUTERS)

“Seriously, you should chill out a bit…You know, we are at a venue where Bruce Springsteen played the last time. I was there and I made the point that the reception he got from the community, which was a very broad-based community … from the Indian diaspora, welcomed him very strongly. It’s as simple as that,” Albanese told the reporter.

He added, “…“So, I welcomed Prime Minister Modi to Australia, as I welcome other guests to Australia as well.”

During Modi’s visit to Australia in May, Albanese called him “the boss” while addressing the community event in Sydney for the Indian diaspora. “The last time I saw someone on this stage was Bruce Springsteen and he did not get the welcome that Prime Minister Modi has got. Prime Minister Modi is the boss,” he had said as he witnessed the rousing welcome that Modi received from the crowd who chanted slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Vande Mataram’, and ‘Modi, Modi’.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar killing row

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said that there are “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the Indian government and the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar – who died in June outside a temple in British Columbia in June.

“Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government…In no uncertain terms, any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said.

As the row escalated, Trudeau later claimed that his country is “not trying to provoke India but Ottawa wanted New Delhi to address the issue properly.”

Immediately after Trudeau made the allegations, Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly said she expelled the head of India’s intelligence agency in Canada from the country. In retaliation, India also expelled a ‘senior Canadian diplomat’.

Australia ‘deeply disturbed’

Meanwhile, Australia said that it is “deeply disturbed” by allegations raised by Canada.

“Australia is deeply concerned by these allegations and notes ongoing investigations into this matter…We are closely engaged with partners on developments. We have conveyed our concerns at senior levels to India,” spokesperson for foreign minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday.

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