AMID GROWING dissent within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira Tuesday held a virtual ‘show of strength’ Tuesday as 14 AAP MLAs and two from alliance partner Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) attending a meeting at his official residence. The MLAs discussed the public statements of dissenting MLAs who had demanded the resignation of Khaira following a summons issued to him by a court in a drug smuggling case and demanded that the party take action against them.
Six party MLAs were not present at the meeting. They are Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur, Kharar MLA, Kanwar Sandhu, who is abroad on a private visit, Dakha MLA H S Phoolka, Kotkapura MLA Kultar Singh, Ropar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandhwan and Budhlada MLA Budh Ram. Khaira justified the absence saying that some MLAs could not attend the meeting as they were busy in private functions.
Referring to the voices of dissent raised within the party against his continuation as Leader of Opposition following the court summons, Khaira said the names of those who showed their resentment by going against the party line were discussed in the meeting and their names have been referred to the state co-president, Aman Arora, who was also present in the meeting, for further action. “I will not take the names of my colleagues. Even if someone has overstepped, they are our brothers and sisters and have won the elections on AAP ticket. We will sort out this issue shortly,” he said.
Sources in AAP said that heated discussion took place in the meeting of the MLAs and the state co-president, Aman Arora, was asked why the party did not come down heavily on those MLAs and party workers who were demanding the resignation of Khaira. The MLAs are also learnt to have expressed their dissatisfaction with the appointment of some office-bearers who have been appointed in their constituencies.
Aman Arora said difference of opinion happens in a family but there should not be any rancour in the heart as the party was speaking in one voice backing Khaira. “The state unit president Bhagwant Mann has already clarified that we stand with Sukhpal Khaira and I also attended his press conference on the very first day. No one should have gone to the media to make statements. Opinions should have been shared within the party only,” he said. Arora added that the names of some MLAs were discussed in the meeting and that these would be taken up with the state president so that no such indiscipline happens henceforth.
Ludhiana MLA Simarjit Singh Bains also dismissed the allegations against Khaira as political vendetta and said the two parties will not get cowed down by such strong-arm tactics. “What has happened to Khaira can happen to any of us but we are not in politics to be afraid of such elements. We will fight back with all our might,” he said.
When asked if the gathering of MLAs was a show of strength before the AAP leadership in Delhi especially since the national convenor of the party, Arvind Kejriwal had maintained s silence over the allegations against him, Khaira said that this was not the case. “This is not a show of strength. Arvind Kejriwal has bigger things to worry about. Does (AICC chief) Sonia Gandhi respond to allegations levelled against (Punjab Chief Minister) Captain Amarinder Singh?” he said.