Three Cabinet ministers in Punjab asked Aam Aadmi Party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira to take responsibility for the party’s “shameful defeat” in Monday’s Shahkot bye-election and resign as Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, PTI reported on Friday.

Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi defeated Shiromani Akali Dal nominee Naib Singh Kohar by more than 38,000 votes. AAP candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan secured just 1,900 votes.

Khaira on Thursday blamed the party’s top leadership and local workers for the embarrassing performance and claimed he had advised them not to contest the bye-election, reported The Times of India. “The organisational structure could not be built properly over the past one year, even though the legislative wing has tried to do its bit, and that was one big disadvantage,” he said.

“An election is a collective victory or a defeat for any party, but Khaira evidently did not believe in this dictum,” said rural development minister Tripat Singh Bajwa, revenue and mining minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, and Minister of Jails and Cooperation Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, according to PTI.

The minsters said it was “shameful” that Khaira was taking a moral high ground after the party’s defeat. “If Khaira is so dissatisfied with the AAP leadership’s functioning, why does he not quit the party?” they asked, accusing the legislator of indulging in “cheap theatrics and antics”.