Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh welcomed three suspended Aam Aadmi Party MLAs to the Congress minutes before leaving for Delhi to meet with the party high command amid infighting in the state unit.
AAP leaders Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Dhaula joined the Congress after their entry was approved by party chief Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Minister said.
Mr Khaira, who was Leader of Opposition in Punjab, joined the party led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in December 2015 after leaving Congress. He was elected from Bholath on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket in 2017.
He quit AAP in January 2019 and started his own outfit, Punjabi Ekta Party.
"Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh before leaving for Delhi today welcomed Sukhpal Khaira, MLA and former Leader of Opposition, and his two AAP MLA colleagues namely Jagdev Singh Kamalu, MLA Maur, and Pirmal Singh Dhaula, MLA Bhadaur, into the party fold," the Punjab Congress tweeted, along with a photo of Mr Singh standing with the three newcomers.
Chief Minister @capt_amarinder Singh before leaving for Delhi today welcomed @SukhpalKhaira MLA and former Leader of Opposition and his two AAP MLA colleagues namely Jagdev Singh Kamalu, MLA Maur and Pirmal Singh Dhaula, MLA Bhadaur into the party fold. pic.twitter.com/wMe9d5AMYU— Punjab Congress (@INCPunjab) June 3, 2021
Mr Singh is in Delhi to meet a three-member Congress panel formed to resolve the infighting in the state. A section of the party has contended that they cannot win the assembly election due next year under the leadership of Mr Singh. The dissent grew to such proportions that Mrs Gandhi had to form a team to look into the issue.
Party sources have said grievances against the Chief Minister are varied, including under-representation of Dalits in the government and the inaccessibility of the Chief Minister due to his coterie.
The state leaders are also hugely concerned over the government's inability to take action against culprits in cases involving desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and police firing during peaceful protests in 2015.
The MLAs are worried that they may face the wrath of rural voters the way the BJP is facing in Punjab, party sources said.