THE SECOND list of candidates announced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today threatened to widen the rift in the party with state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur staying away and none of those he wanted figuring in the latest set of 13 names.
The state convener had stayed away when the party had announced the first list of 19 candidates earlier this month as none of the volunteers he supported made it to the list.
Chhotepur was backing Ludhiana convener CL Lakhanpal but an independent councillor Daljeet Singh Grewal, who joined the party two months ago, has been nominated from Ludhiana East.
Similarly, his choice of Paramvir Singh Dhillon, a nephew of Congress leader and liquor baron Amrik Singh Dhillon, who has been working hard ever since the party came into being in Punjab, for Samrala was overlooked for Sarbans Singh Manki.
When former PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal’s close aide Gurpreet Singh Bhatti was taken into the party fold, Chottepur had refused to attend his joining function.
Bhatti was named a candidate from Amloh today, while Chhotepur was batting for another volunteer Jatin Kumar. He is also said to have expressed his reservation about naming Congress-turned-AAP leader Aman Arora a nominee from Sunam. But his opposition was ignored.
Karamvir Singh Tiwana, nominee from Patiala (Rural), was earlier a close aide of Chhotepur. He changed camps sometime ago and is often seen with state affairs incharge Sanjay Singh. “This conveys a message that anybody with Chottepur should shift loyalties if they want to be considered for the ticket,” said a source close to Chottepur.
Sources close to Chhotepur said a feeling was gaining ground that though he helped keep the party alive after the party split vertically following the Lok Sabha elections, was now being sidelined completely.
After the first list came out, Chhotepur did not mince any words at his unhappiness, and said he would take up the matter with Delhi Chief Minister and national convener of AAP Arvind Kejriwal. But he has not been able to meet him yet. The first set of candidates are facing protests in their constituencies by party’s volunteers.
The Chhotepur camp is, however, not opposing candidates like Master Baldev Singh from Jaiton, Dr Ravjot
Singh from Sham Churasi and Baldev Singh from Malout.
Of 32 candidates named by AAP so far, 30 are Sikhs
Of the 32 candidates named by AAP so far, 30 are Sikhs. Out of 13 nominated today, 12 are Sikhs and in the first list of 19 as many as 18 were Sikhs. A senior leader of the party said while most of the constituencies, for which the candidates were announced, were predominantly rural, the party was targeting the rural masses by giving them Sikh candidates. The party would have a mix of candidates from all castes and communities to convey a message that it treated everyone equally.