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Khaira rally today, AAP tells MLAs to stay away 

Chandigarh, August 1

The stage is set for a challenge to Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP as the rebel leaders led by Sukhpal Khaira remained upbeat about their convention in Bathinda on Thursday, seeking autonomy for the state party unit. The national leadership may take disciplinary action against those participating in the convention.Both Khaira and the Kejriwal group led by state co-convener Dr Balbir Singh remained busy gathering support for and against the convention.The newly appointed Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Harpal Singh Cheema, called for a boycott of the convention, saying it was not a party event. He said the organisers were using photos and names of national leaders to confuse AAP workers.Different groups of the party in Punjab and abroad have also arrayed along opposite lines on the convention. A former convener of the state AAP, Gurpreet Ghuggi, came out of his political hibernation on Wednesday and announced “outside” support to the convention as he won’t be able to participate. Suspended AAP MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi had also supported the convention on Tuesday.However, the Sucha Singh Chhotepur-led Apna Punjab Party (APP) has adopted a wait-and-watch strategy. The overseas wing of AAP has sided with Kejriwal, but heads of various NRI wings of different countries have supported Khaira.The Khaira group is hoping that around 12 MLAs and 15,000 volunteers will attend the convention, but so far six MLAs have supported Khaira openly. They are Kanwar Sandhu, Pirmal Singh, Master Baldev Singh, Nazar Singh Manshahia, Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Jagtar Singh. Garhshankar MLA Jai Kishan Rodi and Bathinda rural MLA Rupinder Kaur Ruby, who were earlier supporting Khaira, seem to have distanced themselves from his event. Khaira along with Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu also held meetings with AAP volunteers and legislators in Barnala, Moga and adjoining districts to muster support.

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