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Posted at: Apr 26, 2019, 7:19 AM; last updated: Apr 26, 2019, 10:15 AM (IST)

AAP MLA Manshahia joins Cong

Party fears losing principal Oppn status as Khaira puts in papers too
AAP MLA Manshahia joins Cong
AAP rebel MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh on Thursday. Tribune photo

Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 25

Aam Aadmi Party’s rebel MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia of Mansa today joined the Congress, dealing a blow to the Sukhpal Khaira-led Punjabi Ekta Party.

AAP now fears losing more MLAs to other parties as well as the status of being the principal Opposition in the state Assembly.

Khaira too formally resigned from the AAP and the Assembly today, months after he formed his own group, Punjabi Ekta Party. Manshahia along with four other AAP MLAs had supported Khaira, but had not resigned from the AAP.

The immediate impact of his defection would be on Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, where his Assembly seat falls. It also challenges political fortunes of Khaira, who is contesting from Bathinda as Punjab Democratic Alliance candidate.

Kanwar Sandhu, rebel AAP MLA who is supporting the Khaira group, said this happened because AAP had not learnt lessons and the third front (Khaira group) would also be weakened.

Meanwhile, there is speculation that three other AAP MLAs may also join the Congress as they were not happy with the party in the state.

Manshahia joined the Congress in the presence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh today. Talking to The Tribune, Manshahia said he was disillusioned with the AAP leadership and was also not having common political mission with the Khaira group. “Ï was not campaigning for last few weeks for anyone as I had some differences with the third front, which I don’t want to discuss at this juncture,” Manshahia insisted. He said Mansa voters had urged him to join the Congress.

The development affects the number game in the state Assembly. With Khaira also resigning and Dakha AAP MLA HS Phoolka’s resignation pending with the Speaker for approval, AAP fears losing the Leader of Opposition position as the SAD-BJP combine too has an equal number of 17 MLAs.

Another AAP rebel MLA Master Baldev Singh is contesting elections from Faridkot, but he is yet to resign from AAP.

Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema and state convener Bhagwant Mann said leaders like Manshahia claimed to have joined politics on a mission, but they had other motives.

Capt Amarinder said the Congress would be strengthened by the joining of Manshahia. “It is a clear sign of complete disillusionment within AAP, which has lost its locus standi amid the rebellion.”


PEP ‘shocked’, SAD dubs it fixed match 

Bathinda: Punjabi Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Khaira said he was “extremely shocked and saddened” to hear about the sudden defection by Manshahia whom he always held in high esteem. In a statement issued here, he said he could never think of Manshahia defecting in the middle of an election and that too “without any valid reason”. Khaira said the move would only bring disrepute and shatter the confidence of people in politicians. He blamed Capt Amarinder for this “crafty defection”. He said Capt Amarinder had turned out to be "Bhajan Lal of Punjab" who was still shaky despite having a majority in the state Assembly. On the other hand, addressing a press conference here, former SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia alleged that the ruling Congress and PEP were “playing a fixed match”. He alleged that Khaira broke away from AAP at the instance of the ruling party. He alleged that Khaira’s resignation from the state Assembly and Manshahia joining the Congress on the same day “clearly hints towards the connivance between the two parties”. TNS

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