In a setback to the Punjab Congress weeks after Captain Amarinder Singh took over as PPCC president, party spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira is likely to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Friday in the presence of AAP’s top leadership of the state.
Khaira had reportedly been in talks with AAP since early this year. His bid to join the party earlier was allegedly scuttled by AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann.
With the change in scenario after the party was forced to suspend two of its MPs, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa, for alleged anti-party party activities, Khaira’s entry into AAP was facilitated. Earlier, AAP Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chottepur had pushed for his entry but now Khaira has also found support from state AAP in-charge Sanjay Singh and the party’s national organisational building head, Durgesh Pathak.
Sources in the Amarinder camp said Khaira had met Amarinder recently and was promised that any issues he was facing would be looked into. Khaira, however, has decided to leave the Congress.
Sources close to Khaira said he was feeling “suffocated” in the Congress. He has seen his share of bouquets and brickbats in Punjab’s political scenario.
Although he is considered a firebrand leader who can take on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, he faces allegations of being an “individualistic and opportunist” leader, who has never been a team player.
His competitors in the party term him quitting as “good riddance” while some leaders say his switch would not only cause a dent in the Congress but will also strengthen AAP, which has been looking for a Sikh face.
But it is also being said that local leaders, who are inclined towards the radical Sikhs are supporting his entry into the party. Earlier, when reports of his being in consultation with AAP leaders surfaced, the then PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa had recommended his sacking from the Congress party.
Bajwa had made him the official spokesperson. But later, Khaira started running a parallel campaign against the Akalis and was even critical of Bajwa at one point in time.