Suspended AAP MLA from Kharar Kanwar Sandhu, who had congratulated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the victory in the national capital on Tuesday, said the party had made attempts to reach out to the rebel camp a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said that the greetings extended by Sandhu were welcome and that the party would reciprocate if the rebel MLAs reached out to them.
While sources said that the party leadership is confident it will succeed in its efforts, the rebels they are adopting a ‘wait and watch’ policy.
On Tuesday, Sandhu had tweeted: “Spectacular victory of @AamAadmiParty in Delhi under leadership of @ArvindKejriwal is a win for work done and against politics of hatred. Hopefully this will result in reorganisation of @AAPPunjab as per aspirations of people of Punjab in coming polls.#DelhiResults”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sandhu said his tweet could not be construed as an olive branch to the party. “I am still a member of AAP and it is basic courtesy to congratulate after a win. Even people from opposite parties congratulate each other,” he said, adding that he could not reach out to the party high command directly as he is still suspended and to do so, his suspension would have to be revoked first.
However, Sandhu said that the victory once again proves that it is the local work done by a party that matters in a state. “We hope that the party will not concentrate on Punjab and focus on re-organising the Punjab unit. There had been sporadic attempts made to speak to us in the past and the most recent one was around three weeks back,” he said, adding that nothing constructive or substantial had resulted from the same.
He further said that there was still hope for AAP in Punjab as the third alternative but a lot of work needed to be done on the ground.
The rebel MLAs, who were initially seven in number excluding Sukhpal Khaira, have now reduced to four — Sandhu, Maur MLA Jagdeb Singh Kamalu, Bhadaur MLA Pirmal Singh Khalsa and Raikot MLA Jagtar Singh Hissowal.
Jaitu MLA Baldev Singh, who fought the Lok Sabha election on the ticket of Khaira’s Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP), has re-joined AAP while Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia is in the Congress camp even though his resignation as AAP MLA has been rejected by Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh for not being in correct format. Jai Kishan Rodi, MLA from Garshankar, had also gone back to the party after initially backing the rebels.
Cheema said, “They (rebels) have been contacted a lot many times but I do not understand what exactly is the re-organisation that they want. By defeating BJP in Delhi, Kejriwal’s model of governance has found a stamp of approval and this shall be replicated in Punjab. What we missed achieving in 2017 will be done in 2022.”
He added that even Sandhu’s suspension could be revoked if he came to the party and said that he wants to work for it. “Baldev Singh was taken into the party again despite fighting an election against it because he approached us,” said Cheema.
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