Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Khaira kicked up a political storm in Punjab last week by making a statement in favour of a 'Referendum 2020'. Both the Congress and the BJP had lashed at Khaira, who is Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, for backing a proposed referendum.
The ruling Congress in the state had asked AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal to make his stand clear and sack Khaira if he did not agree with his views. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), while slamming Khaira, had said that AAP get funding from these groups who support the Khalistan movement.
To find out more about this funding allegation, we spoke to AAP's Karnataka in-charge Prithvi Reddy. He said that AAP does not support any idea that has even remotely suggests breaking away from India. Reddy, however, said that some of their NRI supporters may have had links with pro-Khalistani groups in the past.
"Let me honest on this matter. Leader of opposition there (Punjab) is Sukhpal Khaira. Khaira said something on the lines that voices of the people needs to be heard in this matter. Punjab is very much a part if India. He said something about referendum which he claims has got nothing to do with Khalistan. We have democracy in our party and tend to express their personal views. We have made it very clear that breaking away from India is something we would never support," Reddy told OneIndia.
"It is a narrative which has come because a lot of our support came from Punjabi NRI community, and its possible that some of them were in their earlier days were Khalistan supporters. So if you try to link these and say that so and so used to support Khalistan and are now supporting AAP. As a party we do not support it," he added.
Referendum 2020 is a secessionist movement for a separate homeland for Sikhs. It is an idea propagated by Sikh radicals, who seek a separate nation of Khalistan. Khalistan movement was crushed by the Indian forces in the 90s and idea now mostly gets backing from some Sikh groups abroad.
Khaira had last last week reportedly spoken out in support of 'Referendum 2020' which is propagated by Sikh radicals who seek a separate nation of Khalistan. Following this, Harsimrat Badal had demanded that Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP party should sack its Punjab MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also criricised Khaira and said the AAP MLA was indulging in political antics without any sense of the history of Punjab or any realisation of the possible consequences of his statement.
Khaira, reacting to Amarinder Singh, tweeted, "I am surprised a leader of your level is tweeting against me without checking his facts. I am not a votary of 2020 but I don't hesitate to point out a consistent policy of discrimination against Sikhs by central governments! Be it attack on Darbar Sahib, genocide of Sikhs leading to 2020."