“Aisi kya aafat aa gayi thi”, asked one of the 10 AAP Punjab MLAs to their party convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal during a meeting on Sunday evening, said sources. Explanations followed, after which the 10 MLAs presented a united front: they said their support for Kejriwal and the fight against former Punjab minister Bikram Majithia would continue.
The meeting, at Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s residence, followed Kejriwal’s apology letter to Majithia on March 15. The move led to differences between the Punjab unit and the central unit of AAP, and resentment, anger and resignations followed.
Aman Arora, who had resigned from his post as co-president, reiterated that he had no intention of taking back his resignation. “I was unhappy that the Punjab unit was not taken into confidence. Today, Kejriwal clarified everything and admitted that there was a lack of communication. He said he hadn’t realised the issue would become so big.”
During the meeting, Kejriwal articulated the party’s view that the BJP government was using four fronts — “probes on trumped up charges”, “the threat of a constitutional crisis”, “disallowing governance,” and the legal threat of “frivolous but draining cases across the country” — to weaken the party, sources said.
After the meeting, Arora’s statements mirrored what the party’s central leadership has been saying. “The apology is a tactical move. Kejriwal has so many cases around the country that he is not able to dedicate enough time to Delhi. There are 33 cases against Kejriwal in 22 cities. All have been fast-tracked.”
He also articulated the fear that many in the party have expressed privately. “The Centre wants to put Kejriwal behind bars so that he is unable to fight elections,” he said. Sources said that the leadership was particularly concerned with the criminal defamation case filed against Kejriwal by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. However, refusing to comment on it, the party simply said “it would try and solve all such cases”.
The fact that 10 of AAP’s 20 MLAs in the state came for the meeting is significant, explained party leaders, as their support for Kejriwal makes a split in the party impossible. “Those trying to engineer a break don’t have the support of enough MLAs,” a party leader said, adding that two more meetings were likely to be held in the coming week, in which the rest of the MLAs would once again be invited.
On Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly who has remained adamant on the issue, Arora said, “Even when Khaira was made the leader of opposition, the meetings happened in Delhi. He shouldn’t make this a matter of ego.”
After the meeting, each MLA reiterated that there was no rift, and the fight against drugs and Majithia would continue. Other Punjab AAP MLAs present at the meeting were Baljinder Kaur, Kultar Singh, Amarjit Singh, Saravjit Kaur, Rupinder Kaur Ruby, Jai Krishan Rodi, Manjeet Singh, Harpal Cheema and Budh Ram.
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