AAP rebel MLA Sukhpal Khaira’s ‘all-party’ meet a damp squib
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rebels led by Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and others on Friday demanded registration of a first information report (FIR) against former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and former DGP Sumedh Saini and their arrest in the Kotkapura firing case.
The demand was made after an “all-party” meeting held by the Khaira group on the issue of sacrilege incidents.
“A decision has been taken by all like-minded people present at the meeting to organise a protest march from Kotkapura to Bargari passing through the affected villages on October 7 to force the Congress government to take action against those responsible for the police action firing in 2015. We will also set up an 11-member action committee for this,” Khaira said at a press conference after the meeting.
He was accompanied by suspended AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) chief Simarjit Singh Bains.
Though Khaira had invited Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Randhawa and Navjot Sidhu, AAP MLAs and several other leaders of different parties, including Aapna Punjab Party chief president Sucha Singh Chhotepur, the meeting was a damp squib.
No one from the ruling Congress and pro-Delhi faction of the AAP showed up. Both the Congress and the AAP had showed complete disinterest in the meeting from the outset. Gandhi, seven dissident AAP legislators, two MLAs of LIP and former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh were the only prominent political faces at the meeting.
Sant Samaj leader Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, radical leader Mokham Singh, SGPC members and Bharatiya Kisan Union leaders Satnam Singh Behru and Balbir Singh Rajewal were also present.
The meeting was being seen in political circles as an attempt by Khaira, who challenged AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and formed his faction within the party two months ago, to bring together the party rebels, smaller political groups and former leaders of other parties on this emotive issue. As he appears to have reached the point of no return with the AAP leadership notwithstanding their public proclamations, Khaira and seven other party MLAs who are supporting him, need to stitch together a “third front” that they have talked about repeatedly.
At the press conference, Khaira said he had spoken to Congress and AAP leaders about the meeting and invites were also sent to them. “They said they will consider, but did not come...all well-wishers of Punjab are present here,” he said about the meeting in which seven resolutions, including four proposed by Gandhi, were passed. He accused the Congress and the SAD of colluding to deny justice.
“The Congress government continued with the director general of police appointed by the previous regime and has even got him a three-month extension,” he added.
Sandhu said the government was going slow against the police officials named in the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on sacrilege incidents and police firing in 2015 and allowing them time to take legal recourse to seek relief.
“There is no stay from the court with regard to the Kotkapura incident. The government should name the Badals in the FIR and take action without further delay,” he said.
Other resolutions were passed asking the Congress and the SAD to stop playing politics on this issue and need to end political interference in religious affairs of Sikhs and on steps needed for de-politicisation of police.