Even as his name has cropped up in a probe into heroin smuggling being conducted by Punjab Police, there is further trouble in store for former Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa has recommended his expulsion from the party on the grounds of 'indiscipline'. Bajwa was once considered to be a close aide of Bajwa and is a fierce critic of the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab.
Over the past fortnight, Bajwa has written two letters to the party high command and Congress Punjab affairs in-charge Shakeel Ahmad, seeking appropriate action against Khaira, claiming that Khaira 'intends to join the AAP'. Ahmad is also All-India Congress Committee general secretary.
The letters followed a post by Khaira on his Facebook account on February 27, asking people to give their views and suggestions on joining the AAP. Bajwa's letters do not mention the drug smuggling probe that surfaced only last week.
Bajwa is said to have written the first letter on February 28, a day after Khaira's Facebook post. For this, he relied on a letter by Sultanpur Lodhi MLA and Kapurthala district Congress president Navtej Singh Cheema, which charged Khaira with indiscipline.
Khaira then sent reminder to the party high command on March 3, asking for removal of Khaira from the party.
"Any delay in expulsion will mean damaging the party image."
Sources said though Khaira has denied any plans to join the AAP, the Congress is set to act against him, especially as his name has now cropped up in a heroin smuggling probe, with the Fazilka police claiming that a smuggler arrested by them was a close aide of Khaira.
Political opportunism could also play a part. Sources said a section within the Congress wants action against Khaira in a day or two, to corner the SAD-BJP on the drug issue in the assembly.
"His expulsion will put the Akali Dal on the back-foot in the assembly on the drug probe against Majithia. It is this thought that is forcing the Congress leadership to act against him," a source in the party said. Interestingly, the Congress intends to move a privilege motion in the assembly.
There are leaders that are against the explusion. Sources said some key managers of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi were in favour of the continuation of Khaira.
On his part, Khaira claimed he was not aware of the issue. "I have nothing to say on this issue. I can only say that inner-party democracy will hit another low, if such action is taken against me. I only asked for public opinion on joining the AAP. No one can gag me, on engaging with people, who as it turns out are real kingmakers."
"I can only say that inner-party democracy will hit another low, if such action is taken against me. I only asked for public opinion on joining the AAP", Sukhpal Khaira, former Congress MLA.