AAP crisis: Punjab MLAs oppose arbitrary sacking of Khaira, write to Kejriwal

PTI7_1_2018_000176A (File) Arvind Kejriwal

On a day when the crisis in the Aam Aadmi Party worsened, 10 MLAs from Punjab state unit of the party wrote to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on Friday, raising the matter of arbitrary sacking of Sukhpal Singh Khaira as leader of the opposition in Punjab assembly.

Kanwar Sandhu, AAP MLA from Kharar, resigned as spokesperson of the party's legislative wing. Sandhu, a senior journalist, had joined the party soon after it had launched its Punjab unit. Sandhu tweeted that he had relinquished his post in order to facilitate Harpal Cheema, the new leader of the opposition, to appoint his team.

Khaira, who was summarily sacked as leader of the opposition, has convened a state-level volunteers' convention at Bhatina on August 2, and invited all the party leaders and workers to attend it. He also met with some supporters at his residence, and announced later that his removal from post was “undemocratic and must be reviewed”. He said there was no meeting held, and no notice served to him prior to the decision.

Khaira, Sandhu and eight other MLAs have written to Kejriwal and sought a review of the decision.

“I was the leader of the opposition; now I have become leader of the people” said Khaira, adding that he would not leave the party, but work to strengthen it as the third alternative in Punjab. He clarified that he would continue to oppose the rival parties as well as the state government.

At a news conference in Chandigarh, Sandhu said many MLAs wanted to resign in protest of the arbitrary action of sacking Khaira from the LoP's post, but decided not to act in haste. The party has 20 legislators in the 117-member house.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had announced Khaira's sacking order on Twitter on Thursday evening.

Recently, two of the party MLAs had gone to Canada, but were denied entry on account of mismatch between their stated purpose of visit in the visa forms, and what they told officers who interviewed them at the entry point. This predictably embarrassed the party. Khaira and some others wanted to take up the matter with the Centre and ask the Union government to take it up with the Canadian government.