June 3, 2021 10:44:21 pm
Three MLAs who had won the 2017 elections as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates but were lately either not associated with party or had major differences with it Thursday resigned from the membership of the Punjab Assembly. The Vidhan Sabha secretariat confirmed that Speaker Rana KP Sinha has received the resignation letters of Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Dhaula.
The trio had had earlier in the day joined the Congress in the presence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. While Khaira represents Bholath Assembly constituency, Kamalu and Dhaula represent Maur and Bhadaur, respectively.
Sources in Vidhan Sabha informed that there is little possibility of a byelection to the three seats as Punjab is likely to go to polls in eight months time. “While there is a stipulation that bypoll to a vacated constituency must be held within six months time, however, election commission can decide not to hold it if the state is headed for the Assembly elections within a short duration,” said an official.
This is the second time Khaira has resigned from the Assembly. He had earlier done so in 2019 after he quit AAP to fight Lok Sabha elections as candidate of his own outfit — Punjabi Ekta Party. He later withdrew the resignation after losing the election.
Meanwhile, reacting to the developments, AAP state co-incharge Raghav Chadha said the party had nothing to say about “opportunists” who were not bothered about the welfare of the state and only wanted plum positions for themselves. “Sukhpal Khaira had quit AAP two years back and contested from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat in 2019 and lost his security deposit. AAP has been repeatedly asking the Speaker to disqualify him as an MLA because he is no longer with our party and had formed his own party. However, no decision was taken because Khaira was already doing the bidding of the Congress,” said Chadha.
State party president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said that Khaira had repeatedly been attacking the CM and the Congress over sand mafia, liquor mafia and other issues and has now joined the party where he will sow seeds of discord.
Khaira, in statement, confirmed that he has joined Congress and added that it was his “political blunder” to have joined AAP in 2015 “presuming that (party convenor) Arvind Kejriwal would honestly bring about a qualitative change” in the political culture of India. “But after working with him, I realised that Kejriwal was a double-faceted and hypocrite leader,” said Khaira. He urged people of Punjab and NRIs not to fall for Kejriwal’s “frauds and lies” again.
Khaira is a two-time MLA while Kamalu and Dhaula are first-time legislators.
Before contesting the 2017 polls on AAP ticket, Dhaula had been waging a battle against the then SAD-BJP government for the cause of Punjab Unemployed Linemen Union of which he was the president. He had defeated the SAD candidate from Bhadaur reserved constituency by more then 20,000 votes and had polled 30,000 votes more than the Congress candidate.
Kamalu, an agriculturist, too was a new entrant to politics when he defeated SAD candidate from Maur by nearly 15,000 votes.
With the resignations, AAP’s strength in the Vidhan Sabha has come down to 16, though effectively it is 15 as Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia has also joined Congress but not resigned from the seat which he won on AAP ticket.
AAP had emerged as the main opposition party in 2017 polls having won 20 seats in the 117-member assembly. After the resignation of senior advocate HS Phoolka, its strength had come down to 19. Out of the 15 MLAs effectively in party fold, Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu is also a rebel and is under suspension since 2018.
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