Punjab MLA Sukhpal Khaira Clarifies “Referendum” Remark
Refuting the claims made earlier, Singh alleged that he is being persecuted “without even a trial.”
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Khaira has clarified that he was not a votary of the “Referendum 2020” and alleged that reports were being planted against him to make him appear as anti-national by leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, The Indian Express reported. “I have said that we should rectify the mistakes which led to an ideology like referendum,” the AAP leader said.
Reportedly, Khaira had earlier said, “I support the Sikh ‘Referendum 2020’ movement as Sikhs have the right to demand justice against atrocities suffered by them.”
However, facing a barrage of attack from all quarters, including his own party, Khaira sought to play down his earlier statement and alleged that he is being persecuted “without even a trial,” the Express report added.
A statement was issued against me without even talking to me. At least I could have been spoken to on telephone, or I could have been asked to come and meet the party leaders. These types of actions will not help the party.Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP Leader
The Indian Express report also said that the leader accused “successive governments at the Centre” of a “consistent policy of discrimination, persecution and bias towards the Sikhs.”
Citing examples of referendums being carried out in Scotland, Quebec and Catalonia, Khaira in a video reportedly posted on his Facebook page, questioned, “Is (a) referendum not a democratic and peaceful way of putting forward one’s opinion? When I have said that I have fought five elections in Punjab under the Constitution of India, the issue should end there.”
Political Parties Slam Khaira; CM Seeks Kejriwal’s Clarification
Political parties in Punjab, including the ruling Congress and opposition BJP, strongly criticised Khaira for reportedly supporting Sikh "Referendum 2020” campaign on Saturday, 16 June, PTI reported.
Congress leaders and legislators lashed out at Khaira, the leader of opposition in the Punjab Assembly, for his "open and blatant support" to the campaign aimed at seceding Punjab from India and again dividing the country along religious lines, the news agency’s report added.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned Khaira for “backing secessionism” by supporting the campaign, propounded by Sikh radicals for a separate Sikh homeland, PTI reported.
The chief minister further said that referendum is an “imagination of people abroad,” adding that peace is way forward, ANI reported on 18 June.
We want peace in Punjab, peace means stability, peace means everything should happen normally.Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to ANI
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, PTI quoted the chief minister as saying.
Other Congress leaders, including Ramanjit Singh Sikki, Harminder Singh Gill and Hardev Singh Ladi, in a joint statement sought clarification from AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking him whether he subscribed to 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.Punjab Congress leaders
PTI reported that Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia called Khaira's statement as a "proof of divisive politics played by AAP.
AAP Disassociates Itself from Khaira's Remarks
The Aam Aadmi Party on 16 June disassociated itself from its leader’s remarks after political parties slammed him for supporting the “Referendum 2020”.
The AAP said it did not directly or indirectly support “Referendum 2020”, allegedly promoted by a Canada-based Sikh organisation.
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.
(With inputs from PTI)
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