Seizing on panthic agenda, Sukhpal Khaira steals march over AAP, Akalis

As he wages a relentless war against his party after being sacked as leader of opposition, Sukhpal Khaira is now also trying to claim the panthic constituency of AAP and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

punjab Updated: Aug 14, 2018 09:19 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sukhpal Khaira,AAP,Akalis
Aam Aadmi Party leaders Sukhpal Khaira and Kanwar Sandhu at a press conference in Chandigarh on Monday.(HT Photo)

The Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on desecration of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village of Faridkot and police firing at protesters in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan has become ammunition for the rebel faction of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to seize on the panthic agenda.

The ruling Congress seems to be dithering on its next move after chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has handed over the investigation into the two police firing incidents to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). His government is yet to announce dates to table the report in the assembly session.

As he wages a relentless war against his party after being sacked as leader of opposition, Sukhpal Khaira is now also trying to claim the panthic constituency of AAP and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Khaira set a week’s deadline for the state government to convene a session of the House to table the report. “If it fails to do so, on August 20, we will start a protest march from Bargari to gherao district headquarters in Faridkot. The government has to reveal the role of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim in the sacrilege incidents,” he said.

He cited the report of special investigation team (SIT) probing sacrilege incidents to claim Rakesh Dirba, personal assistant of the dera chief, and second-in-command, gave directions to the accused arrested by the SIT.

“A white paper be presented on the Maur blast probe in which too dera supporters are the prime accused,” Khaira said.

Training his guns at the Akalis and the Congress, he accused Amarinder of playing vote-bank politics. “Both Badal (former CM) and Amarinder let votes take precedence over Sikh sentiments,” Khaira added.

AAP had sliced away panthic votes of the Akalis in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to win four seats from Punjab and 20 assembly segments in the 2017 assembly polls. AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had courted a controversy by staying at the residence an ex-militant during his Punjab campaign, fuelling allegations that AAP was flirting with radicals.

The SAD has rejected the Ranjit panel report which states that Akal Takht’s pardon to dera head was secured by then CM Badal and his son and SAD president Sukhbir Badal. The report also links the pardon to the dera head, release of his film Messenger of God-2 and the Bargari sacrilege. For the Congress, both dera and Sikh votes are at stake. According to party insiders, the government is debating on whether the report should be tabled on the last day of the session to avoid a debate.

AAP workers protest against Mann

Senior AAP leader and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann faced protests from party workers at Pandori village of Barnala on Monday. Mann was in town to attend the last rites of Kaka Singh, the father of Mehal Kalan MLA Kulwant Pandori. Kaka passed away on Sunday. The protesters, numbering 5-7, accused Mann of branding all AAP workers as agents of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Mann had purportedly made this statement in the context of workers who attended the rebel leaders’ August 2 rally.

‘DGP wants police to have licence to kill’

AAP rebel Sukhpal Khaira also hit out at Punjab police chief Suresh Arora over naming accused cops in the FIR on police firing. “Arora said naming cops will hit police morale. It is the most obnoxious, absurd and anti-people statement by any officer. Does he want the police to have a licence to kill people in cold blood? The police chief must take his words back,” he said. On how will the rebel group and AAP statergise on the floor of the house, Khaira said they have yet to take a call on it.

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 09:17 IST