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Punjab assembly’s winter session: AAP to go on counterattack, Sukhpal Khaira to lead from the front

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) pushed to the embarrassing number three position in the assembly elections has already made known its intention of going after Khaira with all guns blazing

punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 10:14 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab assembly,winter session,AAP
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira will make his first appearance in the state assembly as the leader of opposition. (HT File )

It is ironic, but the biggest moment of his political career also appears to be the toughest. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who will make his first appearance in the state assembly as the leader of opposition on Monday, is all set to be under fire from the rival parties for his alleged links with a drug smuggler.

The short duration assembly session, which comes just three days before Khaira’s appearance in a Fazilka court in a drug case, will not only set the tenor of political debate and discourse ahead of the crucial municipal polls in the state, but also be a test for him. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) pushed to the embarrassing number three position in the assembly elections has already made known its intention of going after Khaira with all guns blazing. They will be pressing for his resignation “with or without support” from the Congress.

Also read | AAP’s Sukhpal Khaira under fire, political heat set to make Punjab assembly’s winter session stormy

“If they talk about morality and ethics, I have already said I will welcome a CBI inquiry into the Fazilka drugs case. Is Majithia also open to CBI probing his case?” — Sukhpal Singh Khaira, leader of opposition

But the AAP and its alliance partner, Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), are in no mood to take things lying down. The two parties, which held a meeting on Friday to decide their floor strategy, have decided to go on a full-on counteroffensive against the Akalis – who were haunted by politics over drugs – on this issue and the ruling Congress on its “unfulfilled promises”.

Khaira, a firebrand two-time MLA known for his hectoring attacks, will himself lead the charge. He and Simarjit Bains of the LIP are planning to come out with a “damning disclosure” on corruption on Monday to set the tone of the session.

“If they talk about morality and ethics, I have already said I will welcome a CBI inquiry into the Fazilka drugs case. Is (Akali leader Bikram Singh) Majithia also open to CBI probing his case?” he asked.

AAP state co-president Aman Arora said the Akalis and the Congress are hand in glove. “Both parties have leaders with drug taint. They will be shown the mirror. The session will last for just 10 to 12 hours. Our focus will on people’s issues and promises that remain unfulfilled. We are fully prepared for them,” he said. Though Khaira has the support of the combative Bains brothers of the LIP, lack of cohesion in his own party may be a worry.

The AAP leaders, who had differences over Khaira’s continuation after the court summons, are not speaking in one voice. Dakha MLA HS Phoolka, his self-effacing predecessor, met journalists on Saturday but was non-committal on backing him. Another legislator, Baljinder Kaur, who was not in favour of his continuation before claiming distortion of her comment, has not also come out in his support. However, Khaira’s immediate concern is to try and give a befitting response to rival parties, leaving the internal squabbling in the AAP for another day.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 09:46 IST