The resignation of Punjab’s Irrigation and Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh has come as a shot in the arm for the Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira, who has been locked into a intense political rivalry with the minister for several years now. Khaira had consistently targeted the minister ever since the sand mining scam came to light even as the two other political parties, SAD and BJP, adopted a lenient stance.
In fact, Khaira did not even get loud and clear support from his own party AAP even as he continued his tirade against Rana and gathered all possible evidence regarding his alleged involvement in the sand mine auctions. From getting the copy of Justice Narang Commission report under RTI to digging out land record details of questionable deals, Khaira kept up the attack on the minister.
Khaira and Rana Gurjit have been at loggerheads ever since the latter first contested from Kapurthala on a Congress ticket in 2002. Khaira represents the neighbouring constituency of Bholath which falls in Kapurthala district.
Even when Khaira was in the Congress, he had had several run-ins with Rana Gurjit and had complained to Captain Amarinder Singh and the party high command about Rana’s alleged help to Khaira’s rival Akali candidate in Bholath, Jagir Kaur. Congress leaders say that at one point, Khaira even produced a CD before Amarinder as evidence against Rana Gurjit’s alleged help to Jagir Kaur.
Khaira told The Indian Express, “When he entered politics from Kapurthala, he felt insecure that I already had a name in the district as a Congress leader and he made many efforts to assert his supremacy. Maybe he was insecure that I was a better orator than him and had a younger age profile and would overshadow him,” says Khaira.
However, Khaira said his current attacks on Rana did not have a personal motive. “I was targeting acts of corruption in this case and it is a coincidence that the name of Rana Gurjit cropped up on the sand mine issue.”
On his part, Rana Gurjit refused to discuss anything about Sukhpal Khaira. “Main ghairat naal rehna hai (I will live with a sense of honour),” he says.