First it was the unceremonious exit of Amritsar AAP leader Dr Daljit Singh. Then came the blistering attack on party convener Arvind Kejriwal by two of the four Punjab MPs of the Aam Aadmi Party, raising a banner of revolt.
Coming in quick succession, both events have exposed the widening faultlines in the rookie party that had made a stunning Lok Sabha debut in Punjab by winning all four Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014. As a party that fancies itself as the third alternative in Punjab’s entrenched bipolar politics, the AAP seems to be losing ground much before the 2017 Punjab assembly polls.
At the heart of the internal upheaval in the Punjab AAP are clashing chief ministerial ambitions, egos and turf wars that have seriously dented the party’s image as a potential challenger to both the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress.
Here are four reasons why the AAP seems to be falling apart in Punjab.
1) Organisational mess: The central leadership has been trying to directly run the party affairs in Punjab. “They want to control the Punjab unit from Delhi as if we are all idiots here,” says Amritsar eye-surgeon Daljit Singh who got the boot for criticising the recent organisational overhaul.
2) Turf war: Punjab unit convener Sucha Singh Chottepur is accused of creating a parallel set-up by sidelining the original AAP leaders. “He is only playing games and has divided the party to keep his supremacy,” says Dr Daljit Singh.
3) Four MPs and five CM candidates: MPs don’t see to eye with Chottepur. Two MPs Gandhi and Khalsa are seen to have sympathy for expelled leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. Bhagwant Mann nurses chief ministerial ambitions. So far, there is no state leader acceptable to all.
4) Kejriwal’s dictatorial style: Arvind Kejriwal is seen to be deliberately creating chaos in Punjab to allow himself a direct role and tight grip on the warring factions.