A day after nine of its 20 MLAs opposed the Aam Aadmi Party’s decision to sack Sukhpal Singh Khaira as Leader of Opposition, the AAP Punjab on Saturday accused its former ally, Lok Insaf Party, (LIP) of trying to break the party.

In a joint statement, the party’s office-bearers, including state co-president Dr Balbir Singh, zone presidents and presidents of various wings said LIP leaders, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains ~ who are brothers and the only two MLAs of the party ~ were trying to break AAP in Punjab.

LIP fought the Punjab Assembly polls in alliance with AAP and was given five seats to contest in their area of influence, Ludhiana. The party won two seats with both Bains brothers getting elected to the Assembly.

The LIP recently broke its alliance with AAP after party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered an unconditional apology to Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Bikram Singh Majithia, over his accusation that he (Majithia) was the kingpin of the drug trade in the state. The LIP had termed the apology a betrayal of Punjab and its people as it was one of AAP’s main poll planks in the state.

The AAP leaders said while in alliance with AAP, the Bains brothers always betrayed the party and violated the terms of the alliance. They said that even in the joint meetings of AAP and LIP, the Bains brothers tried hard to make AAP MLAs join LIP but AAP MLAs always rejected the overtures.

AAP leaders asked the party volunteers to be vigilant to the Bains brothers’ attempt to break AAP. The statement was signed by zone presidents Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, Dr. Ravjot Singh, Dalbir Singh Dhillon, Gurdit Singh Sekhon, youth wing president Manjinder Singh Sidhu, women wing president Raj Lali Gill and trade wing president Neena Mittal.

They also thanked the party MLAs for choosing a hardworking person belonging to a poor Dalit family, Harpal Singh Cheema, as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

In a statement issued from the party headquarters, the AAP leaders said by giving responsiblity to Cheema, the party has given representation to the unnoticed and unheard dalit people residing in the state.

Nine of the party’s 20 MLAs had on Friday sought review of the “undemocratic decision” to sack Khaira as Leader of Opposition. They had claimed none of them was consulted by the party to sack Khaira or appoint Cheema in his place.

Khaira had said the people of Punjab are still waiting for an alternative third front to the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). “We will try to form the third front in the state with like-minded individuals and parties,” he had said. The LIP leaders had also blasted the AAP leadership for sacking Khaira and claimed that his removal was a pre-condition for Congress’ alliance with AAP in Punjab.