IN A first, AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the residence of a local councillor, Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Friday to take him in the party fold by offering him a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour), the Sikh way of welcoming someone.
Bhatia is a former Shiromani Akali Dal circle president – the lowest post in the organisation’s structure. He had quit party last year after the turmoil in the state over instances of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib.
Previously, Kejriwal has been absent from induction of state-level leaders into AAP.
AAP’s organisational structure in Mahja was badly hit after the removal of Sucha Singh Chhotepur from the post of state convener. All three AAP zonal in-charges in Majha region had resigned from their posts in support of Chhotepur.
Kejriwal’s visit to Bhatia’s house is being seen as an effort towards damage control.
Leaders such as Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, Sukhpal Singh Khera, Kartar Singh Phelwan, Sajjan Singh Cheema and Rajbir Kaur joined AAP in the absence of Kejriwal.
Bhatia had won from ward no. 43 as an Independent. A major part of this ward falls in Amritsar (south) constituency from where AAP has fielded Inderbir Singh Nijjar for the Assembly elections in 2017.
Bhatia said, “It is a rare case when Kejriwal went to someone’s home to enrol in party. I had some meetings with Kejriwal in Delhi. It was decided there that I will join AAP whenever Kejriwal comes to Punjab. His visit to my house was finalised only Thursday night.”
He said, “My wife Prabjot Kaur won as councilor from ward 43 in 2007 as an Independent. We then joined SAD. I again contested as an Independent in 2012 and won from the same ward and again joined SAD. I quit SAD as the party failed to safeguard the interests of Sikhs as well as Punjab.”