A meeting of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs Tuesday remained inconclusive over the issue of forming an alliance with the Congress with a general consensus that a final call on the issue at the state level should be held in abeyance till a decision is taken by the central leadership.
The meeting was attended by 15 MLAs out of the total 20, including the Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who had called it this afternoon. A senior AAP leader present in the meeting said that during the discussion over the possibility of an alliance with the Congress, there were several MLAs who supported the idea.
“However, it is important to keep in mind the implications at the state level. We have been going around talking about corruption by the Congress government in Punjab and now if we were to join hands with them for 2019 it will be difficult to explain the move to the voters,” he said.
When contacted, Sukhpal Khaira confirmed that the issue of the alliance had come up for discussion, but said that no detailed discussion had taken place on the matter. “We have decided that it is appropriate that the central leadership of the party should take a call on it and we should hold our discussion at a later stage as it is premature now,” he said. The issue came up in the wake of the Congress Working Committee meeting held in New Delhi on Sunday where the process to form alliances all over India was discussed. Regarding an alliance with AAP, Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh had told mediapersons on the sidelines of the conference that a final call will be taken by the party high command.
Another topic which came up for discussion in the MLAs meeting was about the tussle between the state co-president Dr Balbir Singh and Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira. Some MLAs voiced the opinion that the issue should no longer be raked in the social media and that a truce should be called in the interest of the party. The LoP apprised the MLAs on why he made a public statement over the issue. A purported claim by Dr Balbir Singh in a private meeting with some AAP workers that Khaira allegedly collected cash from some party workers had snowballed into a major controversy with Khaira openly alleging a conspiracy to oust him as the LoP.
Phoolka threatens to quit
Meanwhile, senior AAP leader and Dakha MLA, H S Phoolka, on Tuesday threatened that he will quit the party if a decision is taken to join hands with the Congress for 2019 polls. In a statement issued today, Phoolka said that any understanding with the Congress party would amount to giving a clean chit to the “perpetrators” of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. “I shall be the first person to quit the Aam Aadmi Party if and when it joins hands with the Congress (either) in a direct or indirect manner,” Phoolka said.
Phoolka had resigned as the Punjab Leader of Opposition to fight the court cases against Congress leaders accused of leading mobs in violence against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 following the assassination of former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. A noted lawyer who has represented the riot victims in the courts, he blames the Congress for the violence that took place in 1984.
Khaira, MLAs meet Speaker
Also on Tuesday, a delegation of AAP MLAs led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira called on Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh and raised the matter of two AAP MLAs — Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa — being sent back from the Ottawa airport by the Canadian Immigration authorities.
Taking a serious note of the matter, the Speaker said that he will write to the External Affairs Minister of India to take up this matter with the Canadian government. He said India and Canada are Commonwealth Countries and they should concentrate on further strengthening of ties and cooperation. He added that the Canadian government should respect public representatives. Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa were also present during the meeting with the Speaker.