Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Tuesday floated a new regional party Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) and said the new party will fight the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and AAP. Khaira, who resigned from the AAP on Sunday, accused the Congress and SAD of being hand in glove and ruining Punjab in the past over two decades.
Six sitting AAP legislators- Kanwar Sandhu, Nazar Singh Manshahia, Master Baldev Singh, Pirmal Singh, Jagdev Kamalu and Jagga Issowal - were seen at the launch of the new party. These legislators, who are still part of the AAP, were however not seated on the stage as Khaira announced the new party. Khaira, who was suspended from the AAP in November for "anti-party activities", said the new party would work for the people of Punjab, especially youth, farmers and women.
A sitting legislator, Khaira had earlier ruled out his resignation from the Punjab Assembly even after quitting from the AAP. Khaira said the Assembly Speaker will decide on his status. He said that he and other legislators will not resign from their Assembly seats as they did not want to burden the exchequer with fresh elections on these seats.
The AAP's Punjab unit leadership had on Sunday demanded Khaira's resignation from the Assembly after he quit the party. AAP MP Bhagwant Mann had challenged Khaira to resign as legislator and seek re-election. Citing "dictatorial attitude" of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, Khaira on Sunday resigned from the party's primary membership. "I am constrained to forward my resignation from the primary membership of AAP as the party has totally deviated from the ideology and principles on which it was formed post Anna Hazare movement," Khaira, who was Leader of Opposition in the Assembly till August, wrote in his letter to Kejriwal.
The AAP got 20 seats in the 117-member assembly in the February 2017 assembly elections. H S Phoolka recently submitted his resignation as a legislator to the Assembly Speaker. Phoolka also quit the primary membership of the AAP last week.