Two days after resigning from AAP, Sukhpal Singh Khaira floats ‘Punjabi Ekta Party’
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Two days after resigning from AAP, Sukhpal Singh Khaira floats ‘Punjabi Ekta Party’

Sukhpal Singh Khaira, while sharing his party’s vision, promised to go after the political bigwigs found indulging in corrupt practices and irregularities.

chandigarh Updated: Jan 09, 2019 10:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
sukhpal singh khaira,bholath MLA Khaira,AAP
Suspended AAP Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi offers sweets to Sukhpal Singh Khaira during the launch of Punjabi Ekta Party in Chandigarh on Tuesday.(Keshav Singh / HT Photo )

Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party two days ago, floated a new political outfit, Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP), on Tuesday.

“It will be a Punjab-centric regional party with focus on burning issues related to the state,” Khaira announced at a launch event held here.

The new party will be headed by Khaira who is a former leader of opposition (LOP) in Punjab assembly. PEP is the second political party to have been launched in the state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Last month, Akali rebels led by Khadoor Sahib MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura had floated the Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali).

Suspended AAP MP from Patiala Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and six dissident MLAs – Kanwar Sandhu (Kharar), Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa), Jagdev Singh Kamalu (Maur), Pirmal Singh (Bhadaur), Jagtar Singh Hissowal (Raikot) and Master Baldev Singh (Jaitu) – attended the launch to show their support, but did not sit on dais.

The six MLAs had, along with Khaira, revolted against the party leadership after AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal removed him from the post of LOP in July last year. However, they continue to be in the AAP. Barring Baldev Singh, others do not seem inclined at this stage to quit the party and face disqualification from the state assembly.

The two-time Bholath MLA repeatedly requested Gandhi, who was suspended from the AAP in August 2015 for anti-party activities and has set up his Punjab Manch, to join him on dais, but he did not. The two then exchanged sweets in front of the stage with a banner of Punjab Democratic Alliance set up by them along with the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the backdrop.

Addressing his supporters, Khaira lashed out against chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and the Badal family for betraying the trust of people of Punjab by playing a fixed match. “The state is on the verge of disaster due to traditional parties,” he said before promising to put an end to corruption and mafias running sand, transport and cable businesses in the state.

The former LOP, while sharing the party’s vision, promised to go after the political bigwigs found indulging in corrupt practices and irregularities. “Just 0.1% of the people comprising politicians and officials are corrupt. We will not spare them and bring a law on conflict of interest to delink the businesses of politicians from politics. Capital punishment for corruption will be considered,” he said.

Khaira backed Dr Gandhi’s suggestion to allow cultivation of ‘organic drugs’ such as poppy husk and opium in Punjab after due diligence to save people from synthetic drugs. He also advocated direct transfer of all subsidies into farmers’ bank accounts, 50% cut in interest on farm loans, nationalisation of transport, setting up government corporations for mining and liquor business, discontinuation of MLAs’ pension and setting up an effective Lokpal.

However, he did not talk much about the AAP in his speech. On being asked about it, he said they were a non-entity in the state politics. “Why waste time on them?” he said. He said the new party would announce its ad hoc district presidents soon. A mobile app was also launched for people to connect with and join the new party.

First Published: Jan 09, 2019 10:44 IST