A day ahead of the volunteers convention at Bathinda called rebel AAP MLAs led by former Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira, MLAs in favour of the rally and those opposed to it hardened their stands making the division in the party sharper.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Amarjit Singh Sandoa, Ropar MLA, said that there was no question of attending the convention as it was against party interests.
“Individuals should be more worried about the party in general and the issues facing the common man than just hanker after posts,” he said in reference to Khaira’s claim that he had been removed from LoP’s post in an undemocratic fashion. Sandoa added that such posts were not to be held in perpetuity and if the new LoP did not measure upto the standards then another one could also come up but everyone should get a chance to prove himself.
Garhshanker MLA, Jai Kishan Rori, who played an important role in arranging a meeting between the rebel MLAs and Manish Sisodia, also ruled out taking part in the convention. “I am with the party and whatever directions that are given by the party. I feel sad that there are divisions but I am again going to try and fix up a meeting of Arvind Kejriwal with all 20 MLAs of our party to find a solution. We must not get divided and allow Akali-BJP combine to take advantage,” he said.
The new Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Harpal Singh Cheema, termed the convention as an anti-Dalit event. “It is an event sponsored by SAD-BJP-RSS and Bains brothers, and has nothing to do with Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and other leaders. The use of photos and names of national leaders, MPs and MLAs for the purpose of confusing AAP workers is illegitimate,” he said.
Cheema said that the state as well as national leadership would have welcomed the convention if it was held to raise the voice of Dalits, farmers, unemployed and was against mafias of all kind. “Bains bothers are experts in playing politics of opportunity and are trying to break AAP. A few leaders of AAP have come under the influence of Bains and are trying to kill their own party,” he said. Cheema appealed to the rebel MLAs to respect the verdict of the people of Punjab and strengthen AAP.
Former Leader of Opposition, HS Phoolka, on the other hand was non-committal about the convention and whether it was the right thing to do. Citing his preoccupation with court cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said that he barely had any time to consider anything else. Raikot MLA, Jagtar Singh Hissowal, however, said that he would definitely be taking part in the event and will go with maximum supporters to show his support.
In another development, 150 NRIs, under the banner of ‘overseas wing’ of AAP have opposed the convention. In a statement issued Wednesday, they said a few individuals were trying to manipulate overseas volunteers for personal ambition and gains. “These individuals do not speak for us nor do they represent us. All of us NRI volunteers, who support the cause and not personalities, strongly condemn the scare tactics used by a few individuals from the overseas team on social media,” they said.
Ghuggi appeals on behalf of Khaira
Former state convenor of AAP in Punjab, Gurpreet Ghuggi, has come out in support of Sukhpal Khaira. In a video posted on social media platforms, Ghuggi said that whenever someone tries to speak out in AAP regarding the rights of Punjab, his voice is silenced.
Stating that he too had tried to do his best while he was in the party but could not succeed. “It is sad that when Khaira speaks out in favour of Punjab, the party is not ready to accept his views,” he said while appealing to AAP volunteers to attend the convention in large numbers.