Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira criticised deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for comparing the party to terrorist outfit Islamic State. In a chat with HT, Khaira spoke on a range of issues concerning the upcoming elections, and rubbished charges against the party over the Malerkotla sacrilege incident. Excerpts:
When every party in Punjab is against the construction of SYL, why has AAP not tried for a consensus over the issue?
We cannot have a consensus with SAD and Congress over this issue. While they target Arvind Kejriwal over the SYL issue, their national leaders Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have not said anything in Punjab’s favour. Now SAD is holding a rally asking people to make sacrifices over this. Why are they not making that sacrificing? The CM has failed Punjabis on every front, be it the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab or any other burning issue.
An AAP MLA’s name has cropped up in connection to the Malerkotla sacrilege incident.
It’s all political vendetta because both the Centre and state are rattled by AAP’s emergence in Punjab. Narendra Modi tried fixing Kejriwal through the CBI and now Badals are trying to corner us through unfair means, be it the sacrilege issue or the error in our manifesto. When Jagdish Bhola accused Bikram Majithia of running the drug syndicate, the CM defended him saying the statement of an accused was unreliable. Here, an accused Vijay Kumar has named an AAP MLA and the entire party is targeting him. We want Chandigarh police to probe the incident as Punjab police has lost its credibility.
Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has compared your party to terror outfit Islamic State.
It is a serious allegation. But coming from Sukhbir, it has no credibility. This is not the first time he has called us names. He recently called AAP the East India Company that intended to loot the state. It is Sukhbir and his gang who have looted the state. That way, I can say Sukhbir is a combination of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein because his nature is that of a ruthless fool’s.
Sukhbir Badal has also alleged that your party has the backing of Sikh hardliners settled abroad.
I ask him to provide evidence regarding this. The actual reason for his outburst is that his party leaders have been ridiculed and insulted abroad (read Total Singh in Canada). He has painted NRI Punjabis as hardliners and Khalistanis.
Most of your party leaders have repeatedly said in the past that unlike other political outfits AAP will prefer to engage a common man either for an assembly ticket or other important roles within the party. However, in Mansa and surrounding areas, AAP has appointed people from influential and well-to-do families for organisational activities.
We don’t say a well-off person cannot be seen as an ‘aam aadmi. In our ticket distribution, you will obviously see ordinary people being fielded as MLA candidates.