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As Punjab Congress battles disquiet within, 3 rebel AAP MLAs join party fold

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcoming rebel Aam Aadmi Party's Punjab MLAs Sukhpal Singh Khera, Jagdev Singh Kamalu, and Pirmal Singh Dhaula into the Congress fold in Chandigarh on June 3, 2021. Photo: Punjab Congress/Twitter

Chandigarh, June 3 (MNN) Facing dissidence and disquiet from former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and several of his Ministers, Punjab Chief Minister on Thursday welcomed three rebel AAP MLAs into the party fold months ahead of the Assembly elections.

He later left for Delhi, where he is slated to meet with a three-member committee set up by the central leadership to resolve the voices of dissidence emanating from within the state Congress and his government.

Those who joined the Congress included Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jagdev Singh Kamalu, and Pirmal Singh Dhaula, who are MLAs from Bholath, Maur and Bhadaur Assembly segments respectively.

“Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, before leaving for Delhi, today welcomed Sukhpal Khaira, and his two AAP MLA colleagues, namely Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Dhaula into the party fold,” the Punjab Congress tweeted.

Khaira was appointed the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly after the 2017 Assembly elections, but later fell foul of the the party leadership in Delhi on certain issues. He and several other MLAs were suspended.

He was in the news in March 2021 when the Enforcement Directorate conducted searches at his Chandigarh residence and other places in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on March 9 were related to an alleged money-laundering case linked to narcotic smuggling and a fake passport.

However, Sukhpal Singh Khaira had cried political vendetta and said that he was targeted because he had voiced his support for the farmers agitating on the Delhi borders since November 26, 2020.

Several months ago, speculations were rife over Khaira’s political moves and he was said to be cosying up to the Congress during the Budget session.

AAP MLAs Khaira, Kanwar Sandhu, Jagtar Singh Jagga, Pirmal Singh Khalsa, Nazar Singh Mashahia and and Jagdev Singh Kamalu had been toeing a different line from the AAP after the Assembly elections.

After Khaira and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu were suspended from the AAP, the former had launched Punjab Ekta Party.

Punjab Assembly elections are slated to be held in February-March 2022. In the 2017 elections, the Congress had won 80 of the 117 seats in the Assembly, AAP 19, Shiromani Akali Dal 14, BJP two and Lok Insaaf Party led by Simarjit Singh Bains two.

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