Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 6
Five months after breaking away from Aam Aadmi Party, Bholath MLA and former Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira today resigned from the primary membership of the party, hinting that he may contest the Bathinda parliamentary seat presently held by Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
He said he would decide whether or not to resign as MLA after consulting his confidants. Sources close to him claimed he intended to take on the Akalis in Bathinda as also Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, who has been nurturing the constituency.
Khaira said he would announce his candidature if cleared by the new party he was in the process of forming with “like-minded” politicians.
The state AAP reacted sharply, calling Khaira an opportunist. Leader of the Opposition and Dirba MLA Harpal Singh Cheema said the party was taking legal opinion on Khaira’s membership in the Punjab Assembly. “We may write to the Speaker. We are studying the relevant court orders,” he said.
Two days ago, Dakha legislator HS Phoolka too had resigned from AAP, saying he was disillusioned with the party functioning and was considering an Anna Hazare-like movement to usher in change. Phoolka and Khaira have so far not hinted at any collaboration.
Phoolka’s resignation from the Assembly is yet to be accepted. The state could see two byelections if the Speaker decides to cancel Phoolka’s membership and that of Khaira. The latter, in his resignation letter to party convener Arvind Kejriwal, alleged that the party had “deviated from its ideology and principles” and was no different than any other party, with “all powers vested in the central leadership”.
“The turn of events in the run-up to the 2017 state elections further confirmed my belief that there was no inner-party democracy... I had strongly objected to the distribution of party ticket as we had received reports of money being exchanged, favouritism and nepotism.”
Khaira claimed that Kejriwal had erred by listening to “two Delhi leaders: and later by tendering an apology to former SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia on the issue of drug smuggling. “...Flirting with the Congress is yet another example of sheer political opportunism that has left the people bewildered,” he added.
Here’s the full unedited text of Khaira’s resignation letter.
I am constrained to forward my resignation from the primary membership of AAP, as the party has totally deviated from the ideology and principles on which it was formed post Anna Hazare movement.
Needless to mention, the current political culture of traditional parties of the country stands badly decayed, due to which immense hope was generated by the formation of AAP. Like many other people across the globe even I was highly impressed by the emergence of AAP on the political spectrum of India, to cleanse the rampantly corrupt system. Punjabi’s worldwide motivated me to join your party so that we could improve the plight of our country and Punjab.
But unfortunately after joining the party I realised that the hierarchy of AAP was no different from the traditional centralised political parties. The turn of events into the run up of 2017 Punjab elections further confirmed my belief, that there was no inner party democracy. If you remember I had strongly objected to the distribution of tickets for the Punjab assembly, as we had received reports of money exchange, favouritism and nepotism. You also failed to understand the psyche of Punjabi’s due to your overconfidence. You only listened to the two “Subedars” you had appointed to run Punjab and never bothered about the sentiments of AAP volunteers on the ground. By failing to project a Chief Ministerial face in Punjab, you further confounded the oft repeated allegations that an outsider will take over the reins in case of victory. A close perusal of the state history clearly indicates that the Punjabi’s have never accepted the authority of outsiders.
As expected the party crashed to only 20 seats in the Vidhan Sabha from the often boasted 100 seats victory by your “Subedars”. The saddest part is that a party which vouched of transparency and accountability never bothered to hold any person or persons accountable for the shameful defeat. It is a matter of fact, that one of the arrogant Subedars is still running Punjab from behind the curtain despite a huge hue and cry against him.
Your meek apology to the drug tainted former Minister Bikram Singh Majithia further revealed your double standards in politics. Your duplicity on the vital issue of Punjab river waters also puts you on the same pedestal of cunning leaders of India. You have blatantly gone back on the most important promise of Swaraj, by centralising all powers with yourself. You have also thrown to winds the constitution of the party merely to remain Convenor and continue your grip on the party. Your hobnobbing and flirting with the Congress is yet another example of sheer political opportunism, that has left the people of India bewildered.
I am saddened to state that your dictatorial attitude has shattered the dreams of Indians and the Punjabis for a clean alternative to the decayed and rotten system. As a result of which almost all prominent leaders of the party beginning from Prashant Bhushan to Mr. H.S.Phoolka have either quit the party or you have thrown them out. We in Punjab aspire to turn the dream of a clean political alternative into a reality, which is impossible as long as I am a part of your highly centralised high command culture.
Although you have already rewarded our good work by humiliatingly suspending me and Mr. Kanwar Sandhu from the party but still I want to formalise the disconnection with you and AAP, by quitting its primary membership.
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