The Tribune – Sidhu being victimised in Congress, welcome to join us: Khaira

Three regional parties of Punjab Democratic Alliance to merge

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 08 June 2019. Stating that Navjot Singh Sidhu was being victimised by the Congress for telling the truth, Punjabi Ekta Party founder Sukhpal Khaira on Saturday welcomed the Punjab minister to join the alliance.

Khaira said the three regional parties of the Punjab Democratic Alliance shall be merged in the coming days. Khaira also sought the stopping of release of Punjab waters to Pakistan.

Addressing the media here, Khaira said in the coming two days, a unity committee would be formed under which all three regional parties of the PDA: Nava Punjab Party, Lok Insaaf Party and Punjbai Ekta Party, shall be merged and will have a common symbol.

Speaking on Sidhu, Khaira said, “He is being victimised by the Congress. He spoke the truth. But due to political understanding between Captain Amarinder Singh and the Badals, he is being targeted.

The Congress tried to insult him. While portfolios of ministers who lost haven’t been changed, Sidhu’s portfolio was changed. We appeal to him to still stick to the truth.

If he bids goodbye to the Congress, he is welcome to join us. We will respect him.”

Before Khaira, the Taksali Akali Dal had also extended invitation to Sidhu a few days ago.

Speaking on unity of PDA’s Punjab parties, Khaira said, “Post elections it is a common request that Punjab’s three regional forces, which are fighting on truth, should get together under one banner. So our call is for ‘Ik nishan, ik vidhan, ik pardhaan’ (one symbol, one principle, one leader).

It has been unanimously decided that a unity committee shall be formed and will decide on the issue. While respective leaders will hold talks in the first phase, we also welcome others to join in.”

Khaira said, “We are also willing to talk to Taksali Akali Dal to expand the alliance.” He said in the larger fight against the Congress and BJP he was also willing to talk to the AAP.

‘Stop release of water to Pakistan’

Sukhpal Khaira said his party and the PDA shall be adopting the Buddha Nullah and starting a cleanliness campaign in the coming days. He also called for the suspending the release of “15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of Punjab waters per day” to Pakistan even as the state reels under a crisis.

He said, “The PDA with the help of various organisations shall be adopting the toxic Buddha Nullah which is leaving a trail of cancer.

We will be carrying out a campaign, wherein research about the industries would be carried out and information regarding polluting industries shall be revealed. He said the campaign shall be expanded to include the river waters of the state which are currently facing a huge crisis.”

Khaira also called for the Congress and Akali Dal to seek pending dues from Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi for sharing waters with them. He said the government had failed to honour the resolution passed in the Vidhan Sabha on November 16, 2016.

“While state’s canals were empty, 15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of water is being shared with Pakistan. This should stopped immediately,” he added.

The Tribune – ‘Huge space for a genuine regional party, we’ll fill it’

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 March 2019. Sukhpal Khaira inherited politics. His father Sukhjinder Singh was an Akali leader and became Education Minister but died a Congressman.

Khaira started his political career as a panchayat member from Ramgarh village in Kapurthala in 1992, but rose to fame when he defeated Akali giant Bibi Jagir Kaur from Bholath in the 2007 Assembly elections.

In 2017, he was elected as an AAP candidate. In an interview with The Tribune reporter Vishav Bharti, he says that he formed Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) last year with an aim to give the voters a ‘genuine regional’ party. Excerpts:

Q.You are contesting from Bathinda. By dividing anti-Akali votes, will it not help Harsimrat Kaur Badal against whom you say is the main. battle?

It is a misconception being propagated by my opponents like Bhagwant Mann. Why did he go to Jalalabad himself? To ensure Sukhbir Badal’s victory?

I feel that Punjab’s politics is being controlled by two big families, Badal family and Captain Amarinder’s family. And both these families need to be challenged. That’s what I want to do by contesting from Bathinda.

It is a big decision of my life. It can finish my career also. I may win or lose, but Punjab must get rid of the Badal family.

Q.In Bathinda, Dera Sacha Sauda yields a lot of influence. Will you approach them for votes?

The question doesn’t even arise. Instead of going to the dera, I will go for issue-based politics which is going to be decisive in this poll.

Q.There is a common view that you are being funded by anti-AAP forces.

It is a cock and bull story. Both Badal and Amarinder Singh are on the same page when it comes to hating Sukhpal Singh Khaira.

Q.The common perception is that the contest is going to be between the Akalis and Congress? Will your alliance not play spoilsport?

You will see the reality once the campaign builds up. It is an argument being fuelled by those who want only Badal and Captain families to rule the state.

Just before the election in Pakistan, similar views were expressed that only Sharif and Bhutto families can rule Pakistan. You can see today that Imran Khan stands tall there. Punjab needs a third alternative and that is what we are trying to give.

Q.What is the future of PEP?

After the crushing defeat of Shiromani Akali Dal, there is a huge vacuum for a genuine regional political party in Punjab. SAD got 26 per cent votes in 2014 and that was before the sacrilege incidents. It will lose more votes in this election.

There is strong anti-incumbency against the Congress. We will get a major share from their votes as well. So, we are hoping that this election will be a beginning for us.

The Tribune – Taksalis resume seat talks with PEP

May consider Khaira’s offer; withdraw J J Singh from Khadoor Sahib, if BSP agrees

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 March 2019. A day after having called off talks with the AAP, the SAD (Taksali) is back negotiating a deal with Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s Punjabi Ekta Party.

As part of the new deal being worked between the two sides, the Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP)-led Punjab Democratic Front could get the Khadoor Sahib seat, while leaving the Anandpur Sahib seat for the Taksalis.

If the deal is okayed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (another important constituent of the PDA), the Taksalis could withdraw their candidate General J J Singh (retd) from Khadoor Sahib in favour of Paramjit Kaur Khalra (contesting on PEP ticket).

In lieu of this, say sources, the Anandpur Sahib seat will be left for the Taksalis. Former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and senior vice-president of the SAD (Taksali) Bir Devinder Singh has thrown his hat in the ring. The PDA was earlier not relenting to give the Anandpur Sahib seat, as the BSP wanted to field its own candidate.

Sewa Singh Sekhwan from the SAD (Taksali) said the offer to withdraw the candidature of General J J Singh (retd) was “under consideration”.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the PEP, too, confirmed that he had appealed to the Taksalis that in the larger interest of Punjab they should throw their weight behind Paramjit Kaur Khalra, who stood a good chance of winning the polls.

Once the deal between the PEP and SAD (Taksali) is done, they will be meeting the top brass of the BSP later this week to formalise the seat-sharing, say sources. Yesterday, the talks between the AAP and Taksalis had been called off, with both sides unwilling to let go of the Anandpur Sahib seat.

Narinder Singh Shergill is the AAP candidate pitted against Bir Devinder for the Anandpur Sahib constituency.

The Tribune – Assembly session called to scuttle Insaaf March: Simarjit Singh Bains

Book Badals for sacrilege incidents, demands Sukhpal Singh Khaira

Sukhmeet Bhasin, Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo – Panjab – India, 08 December 2018. Rebel Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira and his group of MLAs, Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjit Singh Bains and MP Dharamvira Gandhi along with the support of religious and social organisations started Insaaf March from Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo on Saturday.

The march will conclude at Patiala on 16 December after passing through various villages in Bathinda, Sangrur and Patiala districts.

Addressing the gathering, Bains alleged that the state government had deliberately called the three-day Vidhan Sabha session to sabotage the march led by 10 MLAs.

He added that all 10 MLAs would not attend the Assembly session, instead would go to people’s session.

He claimed that earlier during the Bargari march, both Congress and SAD had organised rallies at Lambi and Patiala, respectively, to sabotage their march, but still people turned out in large numbers.

Khaira said the Akal Takht Jathedar should take away the Faqr-e-Quam title from Parkash Singh Badal and case should be registered against the Badal family over sacrilege incidents.

Besides, the Jathedar should call Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to the Akal Takht for taking a “false vow” and claiming that he would end drugs in the state after assuming power.

Further lashing out at SAD and Congress, Khaira said in the past 70 years these two parties had not been able to resolve the stray cattle menace, despite taking cow cess from the people. He alleged that both SAD and Congress looted Punjab.

Dr Gandhi said, “Punjab is facing economic, religious and political crisis. The condition is such that a large number of people are going abroad in search of employment.”

They claimed that they were holding this march to mobilise people on various issues concerning the state, including betterment of farmers and youth.

Meanwhile, the United Akali Dal and Dal Khalsa announced support to Khaira for the march. UAD president Mokham Singh took part in the march.