In a major jolt to the Punjab Congress, its firebrand spokesperson and former Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira announced on Thursday that he had quit the party and decided to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Khaira, who was upset at being ignored in the Congress, would be inducted into the AAP fold in the presence of party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh, national organisation secretary Durgesh Pathak and state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur in Chandigarh on Friday, AAP sources said.
Less than two weeks after the revamp of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), the party suffered a major jolt on Thursday, with its firebrand spokesperson and former Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira announcing to quit the party and decided to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Though there were speculations from past many months that that Khaira may join AAP and he was in touch with the senior party functionaries as well, but all these speculations were put to rest when Khaira participated in coronation ceremony of PPCC chief Amarinder Singh few days ago.
Sometimes back, Khaira had even posted on his FB account seeking feedback from his supporters as whether he should quit Congress to join AAP. However, a section of the AAP leaders had strongly criticized this and were opposing Khaira. However, after various rounds of talks, a final decision has been taken paving way for the entry of the Congress leader. AAP sources said his induction, till few months back, had to be stopped after stiff opposition Sangrur MLA Bhagwant Maan, who never wanted the former MLA to join them.
Talking to HT, Khaira said he had sent his resignation to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh. However, he did not disclose if would be inducted in AAP on Friday. But AAP sources have confirmed that the Congress leader would join party in Chandigarh Press Club and the formal invitations regarding the same have been sent to the mediapersons.
As the news regarding his resignation from the Congress spread, Khaira received a phone call from Amarinder, who appealed to him to reconsider his move. “I respect his (Amarinder’s) gesture, but since I have decided to join the AAP, I said goodbye to the PPCC chief. In the AAP, I would work as a volunteer,” Khaira told HT.
In his resignation letter, Khaira has reasoned that was never given regard for his relentless services to the Congress and his efforts to save the party were never recognized.
“In the last nine years, I was among few leaders who opposed Akalis tooth and nail on every occasion. I faced even fraud FIRs and the SAD-BJP government even tried to frame me in serious cases of drug smuggling. But I never budge to this pressure and did not bother for my personal life. However, all these efforts were never recognized by the Congress. The other reasons behind joining AAP will be disclosed on the day I join AAP,” Khaira told his supporters gathered in his Chandigarh houses.
The development carries huge political significance and is not less than an embarrassment by the new PPCC chief who has always projected himself before the party high command as the leader who can stop desertion of the Congress leaders in other parties in Punjab. Khaira is also known for taking the Akali’s head on, particularly the SAD might and powerful leader Bibi Jagir Kaur.
Once a close confidant of Amarinder, Khaira’s political equation with the former CM had changed over the past few years.
Now, with Amarinder at the helm of party affairs, Khaira knew that his political journey in Punjab Congress would not be smooth and has hence taken a wise decision.” Also, in wake of the growing popularity of the AAP in Punjab, his decision may yield desired results “, said a senior AAP leader.