Cong MLA arrested in AAP ruled Punjab; rift likely to widen in INDIA bloc

Chandigarh (TIP)- Punjab Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira was on Thursday, September 28, arrested in connection with a case surrounding the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, pertaining to the year 2015, even as the Congress party reacted sharply, terming the move as ‘politically motivated’ by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), indicative of widening rift between the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) partners. The AAP justified the arrest of the Congress MLA and dismissed the allegation of any ‘political vendetta’. The arrest of the Congress leader is being seen as a jolt to the INDIA bloc unity in the run-up to the 2024 parliamentary election as the relations between the Congress and the AAP could sour as their leaders have been vocal against any political alliance with each other in Punjab.
While as at the national level, the AAP and the Congress party have got together as a part of the INDIA bloc, in Punjab the state units of both the parties have expressed their reservations surrounding any political alliance for the general election. Since the outset, senior leaders of Congress’s Punjab unit have been critical of the alliance with the AAP. The Congress leaders have been consistently pointing out to the party’s ‘high command’ that the AAP had unleashed a ‘witch-hunt’ campaign against the Congress leaders and workers by allegedly misusing the police and investigation agencies.
The AAP’s state leadership has also clearly dismissed the possibility of an alliance with the Congress. Punjab Tourism Minister Anmol Gagan Maan recently stated there would be no alliance of the Aam Aadmi Party with the Congress party in Punjab, and that the party’s state unit has taken the decision not to have the alliance in Punjab.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) team of the Punjab Police team led by Superintendent of Police Manjeet Singh raided the Chandigarh residence of Khaira in the early hours of Thursday morning. Khaira, MLA from Bholath constituency had been relentlessly attacking the AAP government, accusing it of failing to fulfil its pre-poll promises and time and again questioned Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s style of working asserting he was being “remote controlled” by “Delhi Durbar” and his actions were against the interests of Punjab.
Terming the arrest of Khaira as an act of ‘political vendetta’, the leader of the Opposition in Punjab, Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa said “The arrest of Senior Congress Leader and Bolath MLA Sukhpal Khaira is extremely deplorable. The AAP-led Punjab government has stooped to an all-time low and resorted to vendetta politics. Sukhpal Singh Khaira has been outspoken and raised his voice against the wrongdoings and irregularities committed by Chief Minister Bhagwat Mann’s government. The Punjab Congress under the ambit of law will leave no stone unturned to get him released,” he said. Justifying the arrest of Khaira, the AAP said that the SIT had found enough evidence during the investigation that Sukhpal Khaira had been involved in drug smuggling, and hence he was arrested.
AAP Punjab Chief Spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said that the AAP government is working rigorously to eliminate the drug mafia from Punjab and free our youth from drug addiction. He said that Sukhpal Khaira’s arrest has no political vendetta behind it. His arrest was made on the basis of evidence found against him during the SIT investigation.
Kang said that in 2022, the Supreme Court had given relief to Mr. Khaira in the case, but the court had clearly written in its order that the Punjab Police could re-investigate the case. Based on the order of the Supreme Court, an SIT of Punjab Police started re-investigation of this case, he said. Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Cheema also reacted sharply, saying there’s nothing happening in Punjab apart from vendetta politics.
Source: The Hindu

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