The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dissolved its existing overseas organisation structure with immediate effect. The Convenor of AAP Overseas Wing, Prithvi Reddy, has announced that the party will soon announce the new structure and names of the office-bearers. The Punjabi NRIs, who have been long-time AAP supporters, have received the news with dismay saying the party has been reduced to the stature of the traditional political parties and that dissent was being muzzled. They say that the party wants to appoint yes men who owe allegiance to Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and the Delhi leadership.
In a brief message sent to the overseas wing of the party, Prithvi Reddy said that since the inception of Aam Aadmi Party, overseas volunteers and chapters around the world played an active and important role in building the party. “Over the past few weeks, we have had hundreds of people giving feedback and inputs. It was welcoming to see more and more volunteers wanting to continue to the party and take up larger responsibilities in order to further grow, expand and strengthen the party base, it has been decided to revamp the whole overseas organisation,” he said in a statement.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kuldip Singh Sandhu, an AAP volunteer from Brampton, Canada, who has been a vocal supporter of the party, said the unique aspect of AAP was that there was a promise that there would be no high command culture in the party, unlike other political parties. “But now, this is not so. When we questioned Manish Sisodia on the choice of two Rajya Sabha candidates, he told us ‘You have selected us for doing the job, let us do the job’. When we raised the issue with national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, he said ‘I am working for the country. If you want to do so, do it, else it is up to you’.”
Another prominent NRI supporter of AAP in Toronto, who did not want to be named, said that the existing NRI supporters of AAP are mostly Punjabis. “We have been contributing resources for the party in Punjab and elsewhere in the from of manpower as well as through financial contribution. We saw a hope in Arvind Kejriwal and thought he will take country forward. However, only the ‘chamchas’ (stooges) of Delhi were recognised in the party’s overseas affairs. Nearly 40 office bearers had also opposed the appointment of Bhagwant Mann as the state president in 2017 and it seems this action of the party is related to our opposing him in writing,” he said.
The NRIs have been a big support base of the dissident MLAs of AAP in Punjab. Bholath MLA and former Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, has been thanking the NRIs for their support and help ever since the banner of revolt was raised against the party office bearers in Punjab appointed by Delhi leaders.
The NRIs are believed to have helped organise buses for the various volunteer conventions which have been held in the state by the eight dissident MLAs. The spokesperson for the dissident group, Kanwar Sandhu, MLA Kharar, said they would only comment after the NRIs from overseas wing issued any statement. “Our Political Affairs Committee (PAC) will meet Tuesday and will take a collective call on this action taken by the party leadership,” he said.