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Khaira quits AAP, faces disqualification as MLA

January 07, 2019 05:36 AM


Khaira quits AAP, faces disqualification as MLA

CHANDIGARH: Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Sunday resigned from the primary membership of the party, accusing it of totally deviating from the ideology and principles on which it was formed after the Anna Hazare movement.

Khaira, who is Bholath MLA, sent his resignation letter to AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. He will announce his new political party on Tuesday. “It will be a secular party with a Punjabi name,” he said. He is learnt to be contemplating to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, probably from Bathinda.

Khaira, who has been at war with the AAP leadership, had rebelled against Kejriwal after he was removed from the position of leader of opposition in Punjab assembly in July 2018. Khaira, who has support of six of the 20 party legislators, was suspended from the party in November for “anti-party activities”.

In his resignation letter, Khaira accused Kejriwal of dictatorial attitude and hobnobbing with the Congress. “I was highly impressed by the emergence of AAP on the political spectrum of India, to cleanse the rampantly corrupt system. But after joining the party, I realised that the hierarchy of AAP was no different from the traditional centralised political parties,” he wrote.

Though he quit the AAP, Khaira has not resigned membership of the state assembly and stares at disqualification under the anti-defection law. Renowned constitutional expert Dr Subhash Kashyap said the law is very clear that if a member voluntarily gives up membership of a political party, he is subject to disqualification.

“Any member of the assembly can file a petition with the speaker in such a case seeking disqualification under the Tenth Schedule – known as the anti-defection law – of the Constitution. The speaker will then decide after giving the member an opportunity to be heard. This is irrespective of whether he joins any other party or not,” he told HT.

Khaira is the second senior legislator to resign from the AAP in four days. Dakha MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka, who led the legal battles in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases in Delhi, had also quit the party on Thursday.

Khaira has support of six other dissident AAP legislators, but they are still in the party. Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu, who was also suspended along with Khaira, said they would meet in a day or two to decide their strategy. Khaira said they (dissident MLAs) would continue to be in the AAP for now. “We do not want any byelections because of the huge debt the state carries,” he said CHANDIGARH: Rebel Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who quit the party on Sunday, is not known to tread a middle ground.

His separation from the party was a foregone conclusion after his relationship with AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal reached the point of irretrievable breakdown. There was no moment of ceasefire, not even an ephemeral one, thereafter with even rapprochement efforts ending up making things worse. All this has happened in a span of five months following Khaira’s removal from the post of leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly in July 2018. The move led to a revolt by Khaira and seven other party legislators.

Till then, the two-time Bholath MLA had everything going for him. He was not only leading the party from the front, but also going after political rivals all guns blazing, as is his wont.

He had even claimed the scalp of power minister Rana Gurjit Singh, a known political adversary, by digging up dirt on him, but then he turned against Kejriwal for tendering an apology to Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia over drug charges to settle a defamation case.

While Khaira surely has a knack for spotting issues, ferreting out information and the gumption needed to take on the mightiest of rivals by calling a spade a spade, those who have watched him closely say the present situation is a result of his adversarial politics and political ambition. His overbearing style of functioning and penchant for publicity were seen as minuses by some of his erstwhile colleagues.

“Khaira puts himself before everything else with a holier-than-thou attitude. A major grouse against him that created rift in the party was the manner in which he exceeded his role as the leader of opposition and tried to run the entire party,” said an AAP legislator.

The former leader of opposition, who demonstrated a change in style and became more accommodating towards his colleagues in the rebel group, has commendably managed to retain support of six of the 20 party legislators despite threats of disciplinary action by the party.

However, this was not the first time Khaira ran into trouble with his party bosses. During his Congress days, he had fallen foul of then Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh and some party leaders who saw him as over-ambitious and was sidelined.


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