Facing allegations that leaders from Delhi were running the show in Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Sunday tried to keep the Baghapurana rally an ‘all-Punjabi’ affair. Punjabi faces — MP Bhagwant Mann, Sadhu Singh, Kanwar Sandhu, state convener Gurpreet Ghuggi and even ex- Congressmen Aman Arora and Sukhpal Singh Khaira — addressed the rally while the Delhi team kept a low-profile.
Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh, though present on the stage, did not address the rally and Ashish Khetan, who had compared the youth manifesto to holy books, including Gita and Sri Guru Granth Sahib triggering a massive controversy in July, gave Sunday’s event a complete miss.
Durgesh Pathak, party’s national building incharge from Delhi and currently the target of workers’ ire, was also not on the forefront of the rally. Instead, it was party’s Sahnewal candidate Harjot Bains who was given the entire task to mobilise people and coordinate arrangements for the rally.
The absence of Dakha candidate and senior Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka was also criticised by his supporters. One of them said, “Phoolka sir is one among the intellectual faces in AAP. His absence today means a lot. He too is against non -deserving candidates getting tickets and the voice of hardworking candidates being snubbed.”
Mann, in his speech, conceded that Kejriwal was a little concerned how the recent goings-on in the party would affect the voters’ mindset.
“I told him it is not going to have any affect. Aah dekh lo asar (See this is the affect),” said Mann, pointing towards the massive crowds that attended the rally on Sunday.
Later, speaking to The Indian Express, Mann said, “I meant to say that the head of any family gets concerned over minor issues in his family. Similarly, Kejriwal was worried and decided to meet workers who had some resentments. Today, all his worries vanished after seeing a sea of people at the rally.”
Meanwhile, Kejriwal in his speech made all efforts to assure people that AAP is “pro- Punjabis and pro-Sikhs”.
“The cities of Sri Amritsar Sahib and Sri Anandpur Sahib are pious not only for Sikhs but for all religions. Jaise hi AAP ki sarkaar aayegi, inhe pavitra shehron ka darja diya jayega.”
Kejriwal even termed the “massive” crowds at rally as ‘Waheguru ka chamatkaar’. “Today this massive response is not because of me or Bhagwant Mann, it is because of a miracle of Waheguru. Inke paap ka ghada bhar raha hai,” he said referring to the SAD and Congress.