It's a sin to call Kejriwal a dictator: AAP Punjab convenor Chhotepur | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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It's a sin to call Kejriwal a dictator: AAP Punjab convenor Chhotepur

With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MPs Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa openly criticising party convener Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, the latter has said that he may not be the first choice of rebel MPs, but the party leadership has given him the task to head Punjab after consulting around 10,000 volunteers. He said it is AAP that had made these two MPs and now they were working against it. As the two had challenged the party's central leadership, the ball is now in Kejriwal's court to take suitable action, he added. Principal correspondent Vishal Rambani spoke to Chhotepur about the ongoing controversy and the future of AAP in Punjab. Excerpts from the interview:

chandigarh Updated: Jul 19, 2015 09:18 IST
Vishal Rambani
Aam-Aadmi-Party-AAP-Punjab-convener-Sucha-Singh-Chhotepur-HT-Photo
Aam-Aadmi-Party-AAP-Punjab-convener-Sucha-Singh-Chhotepur-HT-Photo

With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MPs Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa openly criticising party convener Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, the latter has said that he may not be the first choice of rebel MPs, but the party leadership has given him the task to head Punjab after consulting around 10,000 volunteers. He said it is AAP that had made these two MPs and now they were working against it. As the two had challenged the party's central leadership, the ball is now in Kejriwal's court to take suitable action, he added. Principal correspondent Vishal Rambani spoke to Chhotepur about the ongoing controversy and the future of AAP in Punjab. Excerpts from the interview:

Party MPs Gandhi and Khalsa have openly criticised you and the party high command. What is the solution to the ongoing controversy?

First of all, there is no controversy and there is no high command culture in the party. What Gandhi and Khalsa are talking has no significance. They may dislike me, but it's a fact that the senior leadership of the party had visited every nook and corner of the state, taken feedback from around 10,000 volunteers and then framed the party structure in Punjab. I was made the state convener on the basis of the feedback, so individual likes or dislikes don't matter. AAP is a party of collective decisions.

The rebel MPs have said that Kejriwal is behaving like a dictator. Why is the party not taking action against them?

It's a sin to call Kejriwal a dictator. He is a symbol of politics of hope, which AAP has given to the common man. Believe me, he is a mild person and listens to everyone. But he doesn't budge under pressure or blackmail. Both Khalsa and Gandhi tried to press him by giving statements in the media. They fired salvos before taking up the matter with Kejriwal. Then why should he listen to them? Here, Gandhi and Khalsa are at fault, as they are working for themselves and not for party, while Kejriwal is working solely for AAP.

There is an inner party democracy, but both MPs have not followed it. And as far as action is concerned, by criticising Kejriwal, Gandhi and Khalsa have put the ball in Delhi leadership's court, which will decide whether to take action.

The controversy has hit the party prospects in Punjab. You are also accused of running a parallel group in the party by ignoring the elected leaders.

The party has never ignored the elected leaders. Even Gandhi and Khalsa were consulted. Though they would not admit it, both had met Kejriwal and Sanjay Singh. The other two MPs -- Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh -- are happy with the party set-up. The party volunteers are geared up and are working for the 2017 assembly elections. And there is no parallel group as Gandhi claims.

Rebels accuse you of changing parties frequently.

I don't want to indulge in mudslinging. I am in public life for 37 years and no one can point a finger at me.

The top Punjab leadership of AAP being in disarray has not gone down well with the party workers.

Gandhi and Khalsa must realise that it's the party that has made them MPs and given them recognition. I urge the workers not to believe the media reports as the party is working smoothly.

Why is Kejriwal not visiting Punjab?

He will visit Punjab soon. In the next three months, there will be enough surprises as many noted faces of the state will join the party. Kejriwal has promised that he will give Punjab enough time.