Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Khaira on Saturday dared Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal for an open debate on the issue of criminals in politics raised by Badal in recent media interactions.
Khaira was here to visit the house of HT principal correspondent Jasdeep Singh Malhotra, who was recently killed in a road accident, to share his condolences with the family.
Addressing mediapersons later, Khaira said: “By showing the party's stand on this sensitive issue, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has taken a very bold initiative. It is now time for Badal, who had criticised the Congress in a media interaction, to bring out the ordinance. Now, it is time for Badal to show his character by removing criminals from the party.”
“The SAD has a history of patronising criminals. At present, five of the prominent party leaders have been convicted by the court but are being publically patted on their backs at party functions,” Khaira said.
Khaira referred to Bholath MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur who had been convicted for five years of rigorous imprisonment but was a member of Political Advisory Committee (PAC) of SAD, convicted Dharamkot MLA Tota Singh who was also a member of PAC, Mansa planning committee chairman Mangat Rai Bansal, Amritsar planning committee chairman Vir Singh Lopoke and Warehousing Corporation chairman Joginder Pal Jain.
“All are convicted and are holding prominent positions in the party. On what grounds Badal has been criticising the Congress? None of our leaders is holding a position in the government or party after conviction. The party had shown the doors to whosoever was convicted by the court across the country,” he said.
“Now, Rahul has trashed the ordinance being brought to give immunity to convicted leaders and has set the ball rolling for a nation-wide debate on the issue. I challenge SAD president to clearly spell out his agenda on the leaders convicted by various courts. We are ready for an open public debate on this issue and SAD president is free to choose the leader of Congress with whom he wishes to debate,” he added.