CHANDIGARH: AAP legislators Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu were suspended for 'anti-party activities' on Saturday, plunging the already faction-hit state unit into a fresh crisis in Punjab.
In a statement, the AAP leadership said Khaira and Sandhu were consistently involved in anti-party activities, and that the duo continuously attacked both central and state leadership.
The AAP's Core Committee suspended the two MLAs with immediate effect after exhausting all the available avenues to assuage and make them see reason, the statement read. "Indiscipline and anti-party activities cannot be tolerated at any level. Leaders and volunteers have to follow the rules set by the party."
In fact, AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal had ignored the dissident MLAs and instead met the pro-Delhi faction during his recent visit to Punjab. "The party will act when the time comes. Appropriate action will be taken against Khaira,'' he had said.
With the backing of seven other dissident AAP MLAs, including Sandhu, Khaira is on a warpath ever since he was sacked from the post of Leader of Opposition in July.
But, political observers pointed out that the AAP high command stopped short of taking the extreme step of expelling the duo. This, they said, was done as expulsion would result put in danger the AAP's status of the main opposition in the Assembly. While the AAP has 20 MLAs, the SAD-BJP alliance has 17 MLAs in the House.
Not known to take things lying down, Khaira may float his own front to avoid bypolls in seats represented by the AAP rebels. If it happens, the front can upset the poll calculations of AAP, SAD-BJP and Congress.
Three years ago, AAP had suspended its Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi and Fategarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa. Gandhi had been saying that Khaira is raising the same issues in the party which he had 'raised' in 2015. As both these leaders are demanding organisational autonomy for the state unit, chances are high that they will join hands now.