The Delhi leadership of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has declared that the volunteers’ convention called by former Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira and MLAs supporting him on August 2 in Bathinda is an anti-party activity being organised by BJP, RSS with the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) as the front.
State in-charge Manish Sisodia made the statement after holding a meeting with the state co-president, Dr Balbir Singh, and the presidents of the district and zonal units of the party. The national convenor of the party, Arvind Kejriwal, also attended the meeting at the fag end. Among those who attended the meeting were the new Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema, former state in-charge, Sanjay Singh and AAP MP from Faridkot, Sadhu Singh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Harpal Cheema, said that it was quite clear that the BJP and RSS were behind the plan to break-up AAP in Punjab and that they were funding the LIP for it. “Sisodia ji has also said this. From where is the LIP getting funds to send 100 buses for the August 2 convention? It is quite clear that they are being funded. Also, it has been decided that the convention is an anti-party activity and has nothing to do with AAP,” he said. When asked if any disciplinary action will be taken against those MLAs who attend the convention, Cheema said that for the moment no such action will be taken.
Reacting to the development, Khaira said that the so-called organisational leaders in-charge of the state have learnt nothing in the past one and a half years and have not even managed to hold a rally for 500 people. “I trash all their utterly frivolous charges. They have done nothing during the past one and half years after the state elections. What we are doing is strengthening the party. Let them make all such bogus charges. It does not affect us,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Sukhpal Khaira once again appealed to all AAP volunteers to come and attend the convention which has been called in Bathinda on August 2. “I would appeal to all workers not to get disillusioned because of the events of the past few days. We have to take decisions regarding the welfare of Punjab on that day and we have to decide whether the Punjab unit of AAP has the right to decide its future or not. Not that I was removed as LoP, it is the way I was removed that is totally unacceptable to everybody,” he said. He said that he and his fellow MLAs had gone to New Delhi to meet Manish Sisodia thinking that their voice would be heard by the Delhi leadership but they did not listen or try to understand the ground realities of the state, he said.
Khaira added that he did not want the post of LoP again but he was asking for autonomy. “There have been other incidents like removal of Sucha Singh Chhottepur and Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi before my removal,” he said. On the other hand, those in AAP who are opposed to Khaira and his group of MLAs have launched a counter-offensive on social media where they are alleging that the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLAs, Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains, were being funded by the Akalis to break up AAP.
Bhagwant Mann expresses ‘sadness’, Sandhu hits back
Breaking his silence over the crisis in AAP, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said that he was saddened to see turmoil in the party which had been raised through blood and sweat, adding that other political parties must be happy to see this. In a message posted on his Facebook page, Mann said that he could not intervene in the matter as he himself has resigned from the post of the state president and this issue has to be decided by the MLAs of the party. “Khaira sahib is my elder brother and is a fearless and vocal leader and I am sure that he will get together with all other leaders and find a solution to this issue soon that we can all together fight for the rights of Punjab,” he said.
Reacting to Mann’s statement, Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu said that AAP Punjab expected Mann to go beyond a routine tweet and work actively for changing policies and systems which have seen a downward slide of the party during the past two years. Seeking autonomy for decision making of state units is the way forward, he said.