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Arvind Kejriwal apologises to SAD, Punjab AAP unit ‘appalled and stunned’

The development has also left AAP cadre and second rung leadership in shock. Several MLAs who were not willing to be named, expressed their disquiet at the development.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
March 16, 2018 8:23:15 am
Arvind Kejriwal apologises to SAD, Punjab AAP unit 'appalled and stunned' Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File)

The apology by the AAP’s national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia, has once again underlined the differences between the national leadership of the party and its Punjab unit, whose leaders rejected the apology and called it a ‘meek surrender’.

Majithia had filed defamation cases against top AAP leadership, including Kejriwal, then state in-charge Sanjay Singh and Ashish Khetan, in an Amritsar court after repeated allegations were levelled against him by the AAP leadership during the Assembly polls campaign. Even till recently, some state leaders, including the Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, had been making similar allegations against Bikram Majithia.

Reacting to the development, Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira said that he and his party colleagues were ‘appalled and stunned’ by the apology tendered by Arvind Kejriwal. “We do not hesitate to admit that we have not been consulted on this meek surrender by a leader of Kejriwal’s stature,” said Khaira. He further added that the senior leaders of the party will call a special meeting in Chandigarh on Friday. “We promise to continue our tirade on the burning issue of drugs destroying the youth of Punjab,” he said.

Read| Arvind Kejriwal says sorry to Bikram Singh Majithia, his Punjab MLAs call it ‘meek surrender’

Another senior AAP leader, who was the chairman of the manifesto committee of the party and is an MLA, Kanwar Sandhu, said Kejriwal’s apology to Bikram Majithia in the defamation case on drugs is a let down to the people of the state, especially the youth of Punjab. “We in Punjab have not been taken into loop and our fight for Punjab continues,” said Sandhu. He added that defamation cases are a way of life if you stand for truth. “I am still facing defamation cases filed by the Punjab cable mafia and will fight to the end,” he said.

The development has also left AAP cadre and second rung leadership in shock. Several MLAs whom The Indian Express spoke to, who were not willing to be named, expressed their disquiet at the development. “We had been shouting from the rooftops about the drugs trade in Punjab and the role of several Akali leaders and had even been threatening to put many of them behind bars if we came to power. Even during the present Congress regime we had been demanding action against them. I do not know what we shall now say to our voters,” said an MLA.

Reacting to the development, Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, suspended AAP MP from Patiala, said the allegation itself was height of political irresponsibility. “The way he has apologised to Majithia and now is going to apologise to Arun Jaitley shows that it was incorrect to level such allegations without having concrete proof and that too for doing just politics,” he said.

Gandhi said the allegation itself was an act of “political immaturity” which has now been compounded by this apology. “Kejriwal should have produced evidence in support of his allegations as this was the main issue on which AAP had asked for votes in the Assembly elections. He should have fought the case against him, Sanjay Singh and others with all the vehemence. This is a big blow to the party in Punjab,” he said.

Dr Gandhi added that not only Arvind Kejriwal made and repeated his allegations against Majithia and other Akali leaders at every opportunity, but the party encouraged workers to put up hoardings across the state proclaiming these allegations with their names.

“Now, these workers will be the target of political vendetta if and when the leaders against whom the allegations were made, they come to power. This will also hit the morale of the cadres in a big way,” said Gandhi.

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