Supreme Court advocate and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member H S Phoolka has been rather quiet over the happenings within the party’s Punjab unit, which has recently seen suspension of two MPs. Considered to be close to party chief Arvind Kejriwal, Phoolka asked volunteers, in an open letter, to “not let me and the party down” and continue to work for the people of Punjab. Excerpts:
You were the most vocal leader of the AAP, expressing your mind on every issue targeting the Badals, the Congress and issues of people. Then why this silence over issues of your own party?
My aim to enter politics was not to be a minister or get any chair. I wanted clean politics, an alternative for people of Punjab who were looking for one for many years, and when it happened it came in the form of AAP — a party which was formed from our sweat and blood.
Of course, I was hurt and pained to see all this happening in AAP but I was not evasive. I chose not to speak on the suspension of the MPs because I do not occupy a decision-making position in the party and it is between the MPs and the disciplinary committee.
But your open letter to the volunteers, written a day after their suspension, clearly shows your resentment over how things are going on in AAP Punjab. Then why were Khalsa and Gandhi not mentioned directly?
There is difference of opinion in every party. AAP rose from a bunch of firebrand activists who wanted clean politics and all of them have an independent view. So this current turmoil in the party is nothing but a clash of opinion which happens in every party. Bhai hain, aaj lade hain kal phir ikhatthey ho jayenge. Ye sirf ek parivaar ka jhagda hai. (It is a family feud, AAP is a family. Brothers have fought but
tomorrow they will be together again)
But what is your first opinion on this suspension — was it right to suspend the MPs?
I chose not to speak over it as a party soldier but I would say that discipline holds the key. For AAP, discipline is supreme. Sab nu aapne daayre vich rehna chahida hai (People should not cross their limits). This implies to all, from a worker to MPs, all are equal and if action has been taken, there must have been something really wrong. Of course party cannot tolerate anti-party activities by its own representatives.
Harinder Khalsa, one of the suspended MPs, said you were his motivation behind contesting Lok Sabha polls.
It is absolutely right. It was me who convinced him to contest and got a ticket for him. He is now an MP and a person with greater intelligence than me, greater stature and age and is capable to make his own decisions. I am none to interfere between them (suspended MPs) and (Arvind) Kejriwal.
Khalsa also alleged that Kejriwal is not accessible, doesn’t give appointment to his own MPs.
It is absolute rubbish. I am working for the party in New Delhi and meet him (Arvind Kejriwal) almost on a daily basis. I have not met a single common person who had requested to meet Arvind Kejriwal and was denied an appointment. Of course, being the Delhi chief minister he is understandably busy but it is unbelievable that an MP was not given an appointment.
Do you support the return of Khalsa and Gandhi back to party?
Why not? Of course I want reconciliation, as I said it is just a parivar ka jhagda (family feud). It is an internal matter of the Aam Aadmi Party, it will be solved soon.
What is next for AAP in Punjab? The people obviously see that all is not well with the party and even you, the party’s face in 2014, have moved to Delhi.
The crowds at the ongoing ‘Punjab Jodo’ rallies prove that the people of Punjab still trust us. Wars are fought with an able leader and our party chief Arvind Kejriwal is ready for the 2017 war in Punjab. At present, the party high command wants me in Delhi for its war against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thus I have moved to New Delhi. People are closely watching our work in New Delhi and Punjab is watching it too.