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Rebel AAP leader Khaira resigns due to 'deviation of ideology'

Citing the "dictatorial attitude" of Aam Aadmi Paty Chief Arvind Kejriwal, suspended Punjab MLA Sukhpal Singh 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 the Anna Hazare movement," Khaira wrote in his letter to Kejriwal.

"I am saddened to state that your dictatorial attitude has shattered the dreams of Indians and the Punjabis for a clean alternative to the decayed and rotten system. As a result of which almost all prominent leaders of the party, beginning from Prashant Bhushan to H.S. Phoolka have either quit the party or you have thrown them out," he said.

Khaira, who was suspended from the party in November, resigned from the party days after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader from Punjab H.S. Phoolka quit the party. Phoolka, who is all set to float a non-political organisation of social workers based out of Punjab, had said that the decision of converting the parallel movement started by social worker Anna Hazare into a political party was "not right". In the letter, Khaira also said that Kejriwal had "blatantly gone back on the most important promise of Swaraj", by centralising all powers with himself.

"You have also thrown to winds the constitution of the party merely to remain Convenor and continue your grip on the party. Your hobnobbing and flirting with the Congress is yet another example of sheer political opportunism that has left the people of India bewildered," he said. Khaira also said that "immense hope was generated by the formation of AAP" and like others, he was "highly impressed by the emergence of AAP on the political spectrum of India to cleanse the rampantly corrupt system".

He also said that Punjabis worldwide motivated him to join AAP so that they could improve "the plight of our country and Punjab". "But unfortunately, after joining the party I realised that the hierarchy of AAP was no different from the traditional centralised political parties. The turn of events into the run-up of 2017 Punjab elections further confirmed my belief that there was no inner party democracy." Khaira accused Kejriwal of failing to understand the psyche of Punjabis due to his "overconfidence".

"You only listened to the two "Subedars" you had appointed to run Punjab and never bothered about the sentiments of AAP volunteers on the ground." He also said that Kejriwal failed to project a Chief Ministerial face in Punjab, which "further confounded the oft-repeated allegations that an outsider will take over the reins in case of victory", adding that "the Punjabis have never accepted the authority of outsiders".

"The saddest part is that a party which vouched for transparency and accountability never bothered to hold any person or persons accountable for the shameful defeat. It is a matter of fact that one of the arrogant 'Subedars' is still running Punjab from behind the curtain despite a huge hue and cry against him." AAP's social media strategist Ankit Lal said Khaira's "resignation was expected" and demanded Khaira's resignation from the post of MLA as well.

"Khaira was trying to weaken the party and was openly revolting against the party. He tried to break the party. Which organisation can tolerate such behaviour? His resignation was expected. He should now resign from the post of MLA also, which he won on the party ticket," Lal tweeted. "Kejriwal always says that those who have come for position or power should leave the party. Khaira was always clamouring for position and power," Lal said, adding that "AAP will be strengthened in Punjab with his exit".

He also said that Khaira was unhappy with the party appointing a Dalit Leader of Opposition (LoP) replacing him. "AAP has been fighting for the Dalits and will continue doing so in future. If someone is having an issue with this, he is free to leave the party," Lal said. In July 2018, the AAP removed Khaira as the LoP and replaced him with Harpal Singh Cheema. "Although you have already rewarded our good work by humiliatingly suspending me and Kanwar Sandhu from the party, but still I want to formalise the disconnection with you and AAP, by quitting its primary membership," Khaira said.

"We in Punjab aspire to turn the dream of a clean political alternative into a reality, which is impossible as long as I am a part of your highly centralised high command culture," he said. In December 2018, Khaira, along with other rebel leaders of the AAP, launched a new political front in Punjab -- Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA).

(With inputs from agencies.)

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