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Sukhpal Khaira says will provide Punjab a new third front

Targeting Arvind Kejriwal, Khaira said the Delhi chief minister “harps on autonomy for Delhi but is hell bent on stifling democratic voices within his own party”.

punjab Updated: Aug 12, 2018 11:25 IST
Harpreet Kaur
Harpreet Kaur
Hindustan Times, Garhshankar (Hoshiarpur)
Sukhpal Khaira,Rebel Khaira,AAP
Former leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira addressing a convention along with other dissident AAP MLAs at Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur on Saturday.(HT Photo)

Throwing an open challenge to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leadership in Delhi and Punjab, rebel Sukhpal Khaira on Saturday hinted at launching a new third front in Punjab.

Holding his first district convention on Saturday, Khaira said he wants to give Punjab a third alternative other than the Congress and the Akali-BJP combine. The AAP had won its four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 20 assembly seats last year pitching itself as the third front.

“A formidable third front is in the offing. People still need an alternative to the two dynastic parties that have ruined the state in every possible manner,” said the former leader of opposition and Bholath MLA.

“My removal has ignited the simmering discontent within the party rank and file against the autocratic functioning of the AAP leadership. Punjab AAP leaders and volunteers are no more going to take diktats from Delhi. Punjab will decide its own agenda and offer a third force, a clean alternative to Punjabis,” he said amid a roaring response from party volunteers.

Trying to reach out to those suspended or expelled by the party, he said, “One after the other leader, be it Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, Dharamvir Gandhi or Harinder Singh Khalsa, was sidelined on trying to speak the truth. My removal has worked as a catalyst to join democratic voices in the party.”

Targeting AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, Khaira said that the Delhi chief minister “harps on autonomy for Delhi but is hell bent on stifling democratic voices within his own party”.

“Don’t people of Punjab have the right to Swaraj, the slogan Kejriwal gives for Delhi?” he said.

Khaira also slammed Kejriwal’s stand on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, saying that non-riparian states should not have powers to decide on Punjab’s waters.

“I promise to you that the day the Third Front forms its government, Punjab will make other states pay royalty on its waters that has accumulated to several crores of rupees,” he said.

‘Against wrong policies, not party’

Claiming that he was not stung at losing the LoP status, Khaira said: “I am here to fulfil aspirations of the people of Punjab who had wholeheartedly voted for the AAP in the last assembly elections. They saw it as a ray of hope. But due to overconfidence and wrong policies, the party lost the plot.”

Khaira said not naming the chief ministerial candidate before the polls was another reason why the party fared poorly. “The party tickets were decided in Delhi, without heeding to volunteers. We have constituted a political affairs committee to look into the reasons of party’s debacle. The report will be ready in 45 days,” he said.

Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu said district-wise conventions were being held not against the party but against its wrong policies. He appealed to the rebel MPs Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa and other MLAs to join the “struggle”. He said the AAP lost the elections as it failed to take leaders like Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pargat Singh on board besides giving tickets to wrong candidates.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Khaira said his group would not compromise on the resolutions passed at the Bathinda convention. On chances of reconciliation with the Delhi leadership, he said, “We have not been approached so far but I make it clear that even if Kejriwal calls, he will have to come to Punjab as we are not going to Delhi.”

The rally was organised by local MLA Jai Krishan Singh Rori, the eighth MLA to switch allegiance to the rebel camp. Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Mansahia, Jaitu MLA Baldev Singh, Maur MLA Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Raikot MLA Jagtar Singh Jagga were also present.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 11:19 IST