Khaira floats Punjabi Ekta Party
Chandigarh, January 8
Within days of quitting AAP, Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira today launched a new regional party — Punjabi Ekta Party — in the presence of six other AAP rebel MLAs and supporters.
The rebel MLAs, Kanwar Sandhu, Nazar Singh Manshahia, Master Baldev Singh, Pirmal Singh, Jagdev Kamalu and Jagga Issowal, were not seated on the stage. They did not join Khaira’s outfit and said they attended the function to wish him good luck and they would take a call later on whether to leave AAP or not.
Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Mansahia and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu told mediapersons that they did not want to impose byelections on the state and are acting as per the wish of their supporters.
Leader of Opposition and AAP Dirba MLA Harpal Singh Cheema dismissed Khaira’s new party as political opportunism. He said, “Such parties spring up only close to the elections. They are basically Team-B of one or the other established parties only. They have no political future.” He dared Khaira to re-contest from Bholath to prove his mass base.
Technically, Khaira continues to be AAP MLA as the party has not accepted his resignation. Sources in the party said party chief Arvind Kejriwal had not received Khaira’s resignation so far.
Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi felicitated Khaira and announced that the new party would be part of a bigger alliance — Punjab Democratic Front — announced earlier to contest the Lok Sabha polls this year and the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections.
The Lok Insaf Party of Bains brothers would be part of the alliance along with the Bahujan Samaj Party, said Dr Gandhi.
Khaira’s launched the new party at a public function here today. In his address, he did not criticise AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal by name. Among the rival politicians, he specially mentioned Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for preparing a blueprint of checking sand mafia in Punjab, but claimed that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh shot down Sidhu’s proposal.
Listing the agenda of his party, Khaira said subsidy should be transferred in cash to farmers’ accounts. There should be 50 per cent reduction in interest rate for loans to farmers.
He said his party would fight against corruption by taking action against bigwigs instead of only against clerks or JEs; effective institution of the Lok Pal would be introduced; action would be taken on sacrilege incidents; and there would be a crackdown on drugs.