Khaira open to tie-up with AAP, rules out return to party fold
Khaira said he was not averse to the idea of joining hands with the AAP by having it as a constituent of the six-party alliance.Updated: May 28, 2019 11:42 IST
Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) president and rebel leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Monday unequivocally ruled out the possibility of joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but was open to welcoming his erstwhile party into the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA).
Khaira said he was not averse to the idea of joining hands with the AAP by having it as a constituent of the six-party alliance. “The desperation they (AAP) showed to have a coalition with the Congress in parliamentary polls was a stumbling block. They may try to do this again for the assembly elections in Delhi in 2020. What will we do then? He (Mann) will have to clarify his stand as we are opposed to both Congress and AKalis,” he told Hindustan Times.
His remarks, which came a day after AAP’s state unit chief and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said he had phoned (rebel leaders) Khaira and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu and told them to forget the past, are significant in view of the upcoming assembly bypolls in the state.
Jalalabad and Phagwara seats will fall vacant as Sukhbir Badal and Som Prakash have got elected to the Lok Sabha. Also, the resignations of four AAP MLAs, including Khaira, from the membership of the state assembly and disqualification petition against another party legislator are pending before the speaker.
Mann, in an interview to a TV channel on Sunday, had said that he also sought their support in identifying critical state-specific issues that could be raised in Lok Sabha.
Khaira, while confirming the AAP state chief’s phone call, said that in the interview, Mann accused him of contesting from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat to help Akali candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal without any evidence. “I challenge him to produce any evidence in support of his allegation,” he said, terming the charge as “false and malicious”.
On his party’s future, the two-time Bholath MLA said his effort would be to bring three regional parties – Bains Brother’s Lok Insaaf Party, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s Nawan Punjab Party and PEP – under one flag as their mission, aim and path were the same.
Khaira, along with six of the 20 MLAs, had revolted against the AAP leadership in July 2018 after being removed from the post of leader of opposition and was later suspended for anti-party activities. He then put together the PDA, a coalition of six parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India and LIP, pitching it as the third alternative. The alliance polled 10.6% votes against the AAP’s 7.4%, but failed to win any seat. Khaira did not perform too well either, getting just 3.18% of the total votes polled, whereas Mann has retained his Sangrur Lok Sabha seat.
First Published: May 28, 2019 11:42 IST