Not averse to holding talks with Khaira group: Kejriwal

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Chandigarh:

To resolve the “infighting” plaguing the AAP in Punjab, the party’s national convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that he was not averse to holding talks with the dissident group of MLA’s led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira, in the interest of the party.

Kejriwal also ruled out any alliance with the Congress for the next year’s Lok Sabha polls, saying, “No, that is not happening.”

During his visit to Punjab on Sunday, mainly to attend the ‘bhog’ ceremony of party MLA Kulwant Singh’s father at Mehal Kalan, Kejriwal went to residence of party MLA Aman Arora in Sunam, where he had an informal meeting with 11 of the AAP legislators from Punjab.

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Notably, on the call of the AAP’s legislative wing, Arora has already initiated talks with the dissident group of legislators ahead of the Punjab Assembly session slated later this month.

The AAP had replaced Khaira with Cheema as the leader of opposition last month, triggering a revolt by eight out of its 20 MLAs that plunged the state unit into crisis. Khaira had dubbed his removal “undemocratic”.

The holding of talks by Sunam MLA Aman Arora with Khaira group assumes significance as the main opposition party AAP would like to be seen as united in the crucial Assembly session, during which Justice Ranjit Singh Commission’s report on sacrilege issue would be tabled.

Punjab Vidhan Session will start from August 24 till 28.

Interacting with reporters at Arora’s residence, Kejriwal was fielded questions on the issue of dissident MLAs who have reportedly opened a front against their own party.

On the Khaira issue, Kejriwal said, “In every party, in every family, there are issues and fights. I believe that some colleagues who are unhappy will be persuaded. I have also asked some of my MLAs to reach out to them and if need is felt, even I will talk to them.”

When asked why the Khaira group was not invited for today’s meeting with MLAs at Sunam, the Delhi chief minister, who was accompanied by his deputy, Manish Sisodia, said, “No formal meeting was planned today.”

Notably, Khaira also maintained a distance from Kejriwal at the ‘bhog’ ceremony.

Kejriwal said, “Whosoever holds some grudge, may be they have some good suggestion, we will implement that. Our aim is to unite the entire Punjab and the entire country. We will attempt to reach out to all those who hold any kind of grudge. If need be, I will talk to them (the dissidents)”.

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Dissident MLAs, led by Khaira had earlier declared the party’s Punjab unit “autonomous” and “dissolved” its current organisational structure during a convention at Bathinda on August 2.

On the issue of alleged leak of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report, Kejriwal while referring to the sacrilege incidents of 2015, said, “Amarinder Singh had promised that culprits will be brought to book. He set up Justice Ranjit Singh Commission and now things are emerging that as per information of the leaked report many bigwigs are involved.

“The government is preparing to recommend handing over the probe to CBI... We demand that report be made public and all those involved be given exemplary punishment.”

Attacking the Congress government in Punjab, Kejriwal claimed that people had voted for the party with high hopes, but they had failed to fulfill even a single promise made to the people.

“They promised jobs to the youth, debt waiver for farmers, smart phones to youth, but they have failed to fulfill their promises,” he alleged, adding, “The people of Punjab were fed up with the Akali Dal, but now they are unhappy with the Congress also.”

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Kejriwal invited the people of Punjab, including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to visit Delhi to witness the “unprecedented development works that have been undertaken, especially in health, education, in providing water and power to people by the AAP government.”

“I invite everyone from Punjab including Amarinder Singh to see our government schools, hospitals, mohalla clinics and see for yourself the kind of development works that have been carried out,” he said.

Asserting that the AAP was willing to lend a helping hand to the Congress dispensation to “set right” government schools and hospitals in Punjab, Kejriwal said, “In Delhi, we have been in power for three-and-a-half years. We have made schools in Delhi better. You see our government schools in Delhi have have become better than private ones, their results are also good.”

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“We are providing cheapest power to the people. If during a short span of three-and-a-half years, an entirely new party can undertake so many development works, people of this country are asking what have Congress and BJP done during past 70 years, except for looting us,” he said.

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