In clear-cut signs of rift in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), senior party leader and Supreme Court advocate H S Phoolka Friday said he had no standing in the party and that ticket-seekers in the party need not approach him.
Underlining that it was AAP state convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur who runs the show in the party, Phoolka, in a video message he uploaded on all social media platforms, said: “Please contact Chhotepur (for tickets). There is no need to waste your time on me. He is going to decide it.
Chhotepur, meanwhile, told The Indian Express that “it is extremely unfortunate that a senior AAP leader like Phoolka has displayed such kind of attitude”.
“I have no idea why is he upset. We respect him a lot. I would not like to say anything. Polls are approaching and our focus is on winning maximum seats in Punjab,” he said.
In the one-minute-27-second video, Phoolka has voiced strong resentment.
“Friends, the work to distribute tickets is on, it is gathering pace. People are asking for appointments from me. You people are reaching my Ludhiana and Delhi office. When I decline to meet you, the sentiment that goes out is that I am too arrogant and proud. But the fact is that I have no role in distributing tickets. This onus now lies on state convenor Sucha Singh Chotepur. Please contact him, he is the one who has the ultimate role to play,” he said.
Mincing no words that he has been marginalised in the party, he said “he was not a member in either of the committees formed for elections”.
“I am not a member of either the screening, campaigning or manifesto committee for Punjab. Neither am I member of national executive committee, National council or state committee. Like you, I am a small member of this party. Kindly do not waste your time on me. It is clear that Chhotepur is the supreme leader of the party now in Punjab so please go to him; he is going to finalise the tickets,” he said.
He also expressed his disappointment over his non-inclusion in the recently announced national executive of the party that has Chhotepur as ex-officio member. MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh from Sangrur and Faridkot, respectively, women’s wing head Baljinder Kaur and youth wing head Harjot Bains are also part of the national executive.
When contacted, Phoolka, who resigned from all party posts a few months ago citing that “he needs more time to focus on 1984 anti-Sikh riots court cases”, said, “I have just clarified that I have no say when it comes to ticket distribution. I have nothing against anyone but it is a fact that Chhotepur is state convenor and ticket aspirants should not waste their time on me.”
Phoolka was the party’s candidate from Ludhiana in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Though he was defeated by Congress’ Ravneet Singh Bittu, he had swept the rural belt of Jagraon, an Akalis bastion, losing by a thin margin of over 19,000 votes.
Earlier, he was the national head of party’s legal cell and member of Political Affairs Committee (PAC) but resigned from active politics last year in September.
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