Hours after he accused top Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of seeking Rs 1 crore for campaign or lose his ticket, Vinod Kumar was replaced by the party as its candidate from Bhoa segment for the Punjab assembly polls due early next year, on Thursday. The new candidate is Amarjit Singh.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Vinod, a registered medical practitioner who also worked as a journalist with a Hindi national daily, had said that on November 12 he was called to a house in Sector 18 of Chandigarh and party leaders Sanjay Singh (Punjab affairs in-charge ) and Durgesh Pathak (national organisation-building head) gave him an offer. “They told me that I was not campaigning properly, and told me to get Rs 1 crore deposited with them so that they could take care of it. I was shocked. They also offered for me to withdraw from the contest by taking Rs 30 lakh. They told me that there are other people in the constituency who have offered Rs 2 crore to the party to contest,” alleged Vinod, whose candidature was announced on October 8 along with 27 others’.
Vinod said MP Bhagwant Mann and Sunam candidate Aman Arora were also present when the party leaders gave him the offer. He even alleged that Sanjay made him speak to Delhi CM and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal. “He (Kejriwal) also told me to take directions from Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak,” said Vinod.
At a press conference late evening, Sanjay announced the replacement and said it was being done as Vinod had not been able to campaign well. “He failed to engage with the public, and was told several times to improve. But he failed to meet party’s expectations. The matter even came up in the party’s political affairs committee.”
About the allegations, Sanjay said, “He had obviously pre-empted the party’s move to replace him over non-performance. There is not an iota of truth in what he has said. I will leave public life if he proves a word of it.”
“We had made it clear to all our candidates that anyone found wanting in election campaign will have his ticket cancelled,” Sanjay told reporters. He said Vinod had claimed that he had visited 13,040 houses as part of door-to-door campaigning but had actually covered only 1,444. “He was also found wanting vis-a-vis wall writings and showing projector shows in Bhoa.”
Vinod, when asked why he took so long to make the “Rs 1-crore demand” public, said, “I was given one week to decide, but my conscience never allowed me to fall into the trap, so I decided to make it public.”