AAP Says It Doesn’t Support Sukhpal Khaira’s Referendum Comment

AAP said said Sukhpal Khaira’s statement could be his personal view (File) - Sakshi Post

The Aam Aadmi Party today disassociated itself from remarks by its leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira after political parties slammed him for "supporting" a referendum to let Sikhs decide whether they want to secede from India.

The AAP said it did not directly or indirectly support "Referendum 2020", allegedly promoted by a Canada-based Sikh organisation.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party had lashed at Mr Khaira, who is Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, for backing a proposed referendum.

The ruling Congress in the state had asked AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal to make his stand clear and sack Mr Khaira if he did not agree with his views.

Even while backing "Referendum 2020", Mr Khaira maintained that he stood for India's unity.

The AAP joint statement was issued by the party's Punjab co-president Balbir Singh, Majha zone president Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Malwa zone leaders Narinder Singh Sidhu, Gurditt Singh Sekhon and Dalbir Singh Dhillon.

It said the party believed totally in the Constitution and did not support any activity against the unity and the federal structure of the country.

They said Mr Khaira's statement could be his personal view and the party will seek a clarification from him.

Yesterday, Mr Khaira said, "I support the Sikh Referendum 2020 movement as Sikhs have the right to demand justice against atrocities suffered by them."

Facing a barrage of criticism, he responded to Chief Minister today in a tweet, claiming that Amarinder Singh had not got his facts right.

"I am surprised a leader of your level is tweeting against me without checking his facts. I am not a votary of 2020 but I don't hesitate to point out a consistent policy of discrimination against Sikhs by central governments! Be it attack on Darbar Sahib, genocide of Sikhs leading to 2020," he tweeted.

In a statement, Amarinder Singh said Mr Khaira seemed to be indulging in political antics without any sense of the history of Punjab or any realisation of the possible consequences of his statement.

In a joint statement, other Congress leaders, including Ramanjit Singh Sikki, Harminder Singh Gill and Hardev Singh Laddi, sought a clarification from Arvind Kejriwal on whether he subscribed to Mr Khaira's stand.

"You must sack Khaira from the party and if you do not do that it will amount to your consent and concurrence to the anti-national designs of Khaira," they said.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia termed Mr Khaira's statement a "proof of the divisive politics played by the AAP."

BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia accused Mr Khaira of "doublespeak" by simultaneously supporting the referendum and owing allegiance to the Constitution.

Mr Kalia said it was an open secret that the campaign was the brainchild of Sikhs for Justice, a secessionist organisation headquartered in Canada.

"Declaring support for referendum 2020 by Khaira establishes his links with secessionists supporting Khalistan," the former minister said.

The Punjab chief minister dismissed as hypocrisy Mr Khaira's claim that he stood for India's unity while supporting the campaign, terming it a classic case of "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds".

Mr Singh demanded to know whether Mr Khaira's statement had the backing of the AAP central leadership.This was important considering Mr Kejriwal himself was hobnobbing with pro-Khalistanis when he campaigned in Punjab in the run-up to the Assembly elections, he alleged.The AAP leadership should clarify their stand on the sensitive issue, which has the potential to plunge Punjab back into the dark days of terrorism, the chief minister said.

PTI


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