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Ex-AAP leader merges his party with Congress after meeting Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) MLAs Sardar Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Sardar Jagdev Singh and Pirmal Singh after PEP announced its coalition with Congress party, ahead of Punjab Assembly Elections 2022, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Leader of the Opposition and founder of the Punjab Ekta Party Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Thursday formally merged his party with the Congress after meeting former party chief Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s Delhi residence.

Party incharge for Punjab Harish Rawat, general secretary Randeep Surjewala and two of Mr. Khaira’s MLAs — Jagdev Singh (Maur) and Pirmal Singh (Bhadaur) — were present.

The timing of Mr. Khaira’s meeting is significant as it comes just days before the High Command is expected to meet Punjab Chief Minister Captain (Retd.) Amarinder Singh and former Minister-turned-dissident leader Navjot Singh in Delhi on June 20 to work out a compromise and end the factionalism.

Mr. Gandhi’s meeting with Mr. Khaira, who had walked out of the Congress and joined the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in 2015 and won from the Bholath seat on AAP ticket in 2017, holds special significance even in terms of political messaging.

On June 3, a day before Capt. Amarinder met the three-member panel of the AICC panel to resolve the factionalism, the Chief Minister had re-inducted Mr. Khaira even before a formal go-ahead from the central leadership.

The Chief Minister’s move not only indicated his political assertion but was also seen as his assertion against Mr. Sidhu, who is known to enjoy the backing of Mr. Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

So Mr. Gandhi’s meeting with Mr. Khaira not only puts a stamp of approval over his re-induction but can also be interpreted as a sign of thaw between the two camps.

“Suppose there is some inner party affair, the High Command has immediately intervened to keep the party united. In AAP, there is nothing beyond one man show,” Mr. Khaira told reporters after meeting Mr. Gandhi.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 11:02:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ex-aap-leader-merges-his-party-with-congress-after-meeting-rahul-gandhi/article34841783.ece

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