The AAP rebels have launched a feverish outreach programme in the Malwa belt of the state trying to garner support for the Insaaf March that is scheduled to be taken out from December 8 to 16.
The MLAs of the dissident group along with the former Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, are addressing a small gathering in various villages in different constituencies in the area.
With the majority of AAP MLAs in the Assembly having been elected from the Malwa region, the rebel group appears to have specifically chosen the area to make repeated forays and a conscious attempt seems to have been made to wean away the support base of those MLAs who are loyal to the Delhi leadership.
This is the third major event which the rebel MLAs are holding in the area. The first was a ‘convention’ held at Bathinda shortly after Khaira was divested of the charge of LoP. The rally was held in August and it was here that the resolutions laying down the terms and conditions for continuing a united front within the party were passed.
The Bathinda convention was followed by the Bargari march in October from Kotkapura to Bargari. The massive response to this march further emboldened the dissident group and boosted their confidence to take on the loyalist group. The success of this march even led to open insinuations being made about forming a new political party as well as going it alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. There have also been hints dropped by the dissident MLAs that Khaira could fight the 2019 polls from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat after resigning his assembly seat from Bholath and leaving AAP for good.
On his part, Khaira has defended taking out the march from Talwandi Sabo saying that it was this area of Punjab where the farmers have been facing hardships due to the farm loan burden. In a recent press conference, Khaira said that most farmers’ suicides have also taken place in the belt where the march has been planned through. “Our aim is not only to raise demand for justice for the incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the death of two youth in police firing at Behbal Kalan but also to raise the issue of deaths of farmers due to the loan burden,” said Khaira while speaking to The Indian Express.
He added that he has had a good response from the public meetings that he has held in Bathinda, Mansa and Moga districts. “Tomorrow I am going to Sangrur to hold meetings. We have been holding meetings in districts as well as in assembly constituencies. The response has been good because the on-ground volunteers of AAP are disillusioned,” he said. Khaira claimed that the Delhi loyalists do not have much support. “The people of Malwa region very aware politically and they are unhappy with what they see happening in the party right now,” he said.
A member of the rebel AAP group, however, chose to sound a word of caution on the way ahead for the dissident MLAs. “We cannot take any hasty steps just going by the response of NRIs on social media or people coming out in the name of Bargari morcha. This is not the right time for making any move which would split the party in the state because the stakes are not high for us in the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls. Our target is the 2022 assembly polls and we must concentrate on that,” he said.