AAP MLA and leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira's statement drew criticism from several political parties, including Congress, BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seems to be in trouble for its leader's remark supporting "Referendum 2020" — an initiative being carried out by hardliner Sikhs abroad who seek a separate nation of Khalistan.
AAP MLA and leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira's statement drew criticism from several political parties, including Congress, BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Khaira had reportedly said, "I support the Sikh Referendum 2020 movement as Sikhs have the right to demand justice against atrocities suffered by them."
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned Khaira for "backing secessionism" by supporting the campaign, propounded by Sikh radicals for a separate homeland. In a statement, Singh said Khaira seemed to be indulging in political antics without any sense of the history of Punjab or any realisation of the possible consequences of his statement.
Other Congress leaders, including Ramanjit Singh Sikki, Harminder Singh Gill and Hardev Singh Ladi, in a joint statement, sought clarification from AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking him whether he subscribed to Khaira's stand.
"If Kejriwal does not support Referendum 2020, then he should take immediate action against Khaira,” former state minister Bikram Singh Majithia of the SAD said.
This has brought back memories of last year's assembly election campaign where the AAP was accused of allegedly courting Sikh hardliners. The party’s chances to win were affected after the opposition's claim projecting AAP as a close aide to Khalistani forces gained traction.
AAP is the second largest party in the 117-member assembly of Punjab. It is the only other state apart from Delhi where the party has established itself as a major player.
What is Referendum 2020?
The Referendum 2020 is a worldwide movement asking Sikhs living across the world to build a consensus in favour of Khalistan and sign a declaration for the formation of a sovereign and independent country in “India-occupied Punjab”.
They claim that Sikhs are the indigenous people of Punjab and have a historical homeland, are a separate religion and have the right to self-determination. The referendum also asks Sikhs to reject article 25(b)(2) of Constitution that says Sikhs are a part of Hindu religion.The move is in line with rights under article 1 of Charter of United Nations.