Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may finally bow down before its disgruntled leaders to pacify them.
Virtually taking the charge of party affairs in Punjab, AAP’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is chalking out the strategy to win over the party’s displeased-cum-rebel leaders including the former state party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
Besides Chhotepur, who had floated his own party — Apna Punjab Party (APP) — ahead 2017 Punjab assembly elections after being expelled on corruption charges, the party would also make attempts to win over its rebel MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and the seven MLAs supporting him.
Efforts would also be made to win over the party’s Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who has been under suspension since 2015 for “anti-party activities” but vigorously raising Punjab-related issues in the Parliament.
“We want all leaders to be united and work for the party which wanted to work for Punjab. The efforts are on to pacify them, and we would further make efforts to win them over,” a senior AAP leader told The Pioneer.
AAP MLA and the Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha Harpal Singh Cheema maintained that Kejriwal is trying to make amends with the angry leaders including Chhotepur, Dharamvira Gandhi and Khaira.
“Besides, he is constantly making an appeal to Dakha MLA HS Phoolka or not resigning from his assembly seat,” said Cheema.
Phoolka had announced to step down as the member of Punjab Legislative Assembly if the Congress-led Punjab Government failed to act against or book those indicted in the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission's inquiry report on sacrilege cases and related firing incidents, including the former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Phoolka had given an ultimatum, which ends of September 15.
Currently, AAP is facing the worst ever crisis with the party facing a vertical split. Two power centres — a rebel faction headed by Khaira and another owing allegiance to the party high command — are practically managing the State party affairs in Punjab.
AAP’s state president Bhagwant Mann had time and again indicated that the party would initiate action against the rebel faction, but the party high command wanted to set its house in order by winning over the rebels.
“Continuous efforts are on. We are meeting the rebel MLAs, telling them that by staying united, we can together work for the state and its people more effectively. More importantly, staying together against the traditional political parties is the sole option to improve AAP’s performance of 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” another AAP leader said.
He said that the party is hopeful that the “angry” leaders would come back as the party high command is seriously considering their main demand of autonomy for the state unit.
Party has total of four MPs from Punjab, out of which two — Dr Gandhi and Harjinder Singh Khalsa — have been placed under suspension. Out of total of 20 MLAs in the Vidhan Sabha, eight have revolted against the party.
The division has created confusion among the party cadre as the rebel faction has set up its own political affairs committee, and an ad-hoc state executive headed by Khaira, besides undoing the decision of the state AAP unit and projecting itself as the “real AAP”.
All along been pressing for “autonomy” for state unit, the Khaira-led rebel faction had even passed six resolution during its mega volunteers’ convention at Bathinda on August 2, including declaring AAP’s Punjab unit free from Delhi bosses, dissolving current organizational structure in the state, and setting up a new one for which it has recently set up an eight-member political affairs committee (PAC).
For winning them over, the party high command has to accept all demands. “We are not going to budge. We stand by our demands as it is the only way to strengthen AAP in Punjab,” said AAP MLA from rebel faction.