At Bathinda meet, Khaira declares Punjab AAP unit ‘autonomous’

Hindustan Times, Bathinda | ByVishal Rambani, Sachin Sharma
Aug 04, 2018 09:50 AM IST

Only 7 of 20 MLAs attend convention, no action against ‘rebels’ for now: AAP bosses

The split in the Aam Aadmi Party rank and file in Punjab was clearly visible as the faction led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira declared itself an autonomous unit during a convention in Bathinda on Thursday.

Dissident Punjab AAP MLAs, including former leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira, at a convention in Bathinda on Thursday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Dissident Punjab AAP MLAs, including former leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira, at a convention in Bathinda on Thursday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

A show of strength by former leader of opposition Khaira, days after he was replaced by the party high command, the conclave was attended by six (apart from Khaira) out of the 20 AAP legislators.

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The convention passed six resolutions. It was also decided to call a meeting of legislators in Chandigarh next week to chart out the autonomous unit’s future course of action.

The convention also dissolved AAP’s organisational structure in the state and rejected the appointment of Harpal Singh Cheema as the new LoP after unceremonious removal of Khaira by the central leadership.

Apart from Khaira, party MLAs Kanwar Sandhu (Kharar), Pirmal Singh (Bhadaur), Jagdev Singh Kamalu (Maur), Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa), Master Baldev Singh (Jaitu) and Jagtar Singh Jagga (Raikot) attended the conclave.

Amid slogans of “Aam Aadmi Party zindabad” at a well-attended volunteers’ rally, the dissident MLAs described Kejriwal and Sisodia as “dictatorial” and “anti-Punjab”. They said they would take all decisions according to wishes of local volunteers, but stopped short of announcing a new unit to avoid action against under the anti-defection law.

The AAP national leadership dubbed the event as “anti-party” activity and blamed the SAD-BJP combine, RSS and the Bains brothers of Lok Insaaf Party of “trying to split the main opposition party”.

Khaira said the Punjab unit will be part of the Third Front against the ruling Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance. He said the convention was organised to show to the AAP central leadership that the party’s state leaders and activists had the freedom to express their opinion. Khaira said: “My fight is for the interests of Punjab. I am not after any post. I will speak for all Punjabis. The state has been ruined by the misrule of the Badal family and (CM) Amarinder Singh.”

“They said that I upped ante to get the post of leader of opposition. Let me announce that I won’t take the post even if Kejriwal offers it on a platter. I am fighting for Punjab and can sacrifices many such post for safeguards of AAP volunteers,” Khaira said.

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