Sukhpal Khaira rejects demand for resignation of rebel AAP MLAs

Khaira said, “Why should we resign? The AAP is not the party of any particular individual. We cannot let this platform go.”

punjab Updated: Aug 09, 2018 09:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Aam Aadmi Party leaders Sukhpal Khaira and Kanwar Sandhu during a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dissident group leader and Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira on Wednesday rejected Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann’s demand for their resignation from the party.

“Why should we resign? The AAP is not the party of any particular individual. We cannot let this platform go,” Khaira said at a press conference.

The former leader of opposition (LOP), who is leading a revolt against the party’s central and state leadership, was flanked by MLAs Kanwar Sandhu, Pirmal Singh Khalsa, Baldev Singh and Jagdev Singh Kamalu. Mann, who had gone after Khaira and Sandhu hammer and tongs on Tuesday, had suggested to the disgruntled legislators to resign from their assembly seats, get re-elected and then have all the autonomy they wanted.

Responding to the AAP MP’s charges, Khaira said that he and other MLAs had also contributed to building the party in the state. “If Mann contributed 90%, my effort was also 5%,” said the dissident MLA.

Khaira said that Mann had resigned as the state unit president in protest against AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia in a drug charge-related defamation case and then disappeared. “Now that he seems to be returning to that position, I want to ask him whether he has forgotten the apology or agrees with it now?” he said, accusing the MP of indulging in a diatribe against him out of “personal hatred, frustration, dejection and depression”.

‘Mann’s resignation part of strategy’

Khaira also alleged that Delhi deputy CM and Punjab affairs in-charge Manish Sisodia had told him four months ago that Mann’s resignation after the apology episode was part of the party strategy. Asked about strong indications from the AAP leaders that the party may take disciplinary action against the dissident group, he said they can do whatever they want. “It is up to them. We are only working to strengthen the party,” he added.

Rejecting Mann’s charge that he didn’t campaign for other candidates during the state polls, Khaira said he went to 38 assembly constituencies, including Barnala, for electioneering. He said Barnala MLA Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, who was present in Mann’s press conference, should have corrected him. On Meet Hayer’s claim that Sandhu wanted the post of the LOP, Khaira, while strongly defending his colleague, said that he could vouch for him. He also announced a ‘mass march’ from Talwandi Sabo in support of poor farmers in October.

On Khaira not letting the state unit set up its office in the official bungalow allotted to him as the LOP, Sandhu said that this was just not possible. “The bungalow is located in a residential area and neighbours had raised objections when press conferences were organised there,” he said, adding, “Pirmal Singh (MLA from Bhadaur) had given his flat in Sector 39 here for setting up the office, but the state unit did not use it.”

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 09:47 IST