In the latest sign of ongoing internal rifts, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) panchayat cell state chief Hardev Singh Sayalu switched loyalties to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday. The same day, a group of party volunteers, led by Tarn Taran district coordinator of the party’s kisan wing, Harinder Singh Zira, gave a “48-hour ultimatum” to party convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to change 59 of the 91 candidates announced so far for the 117-member House.
If their wish is not granted, the group members say they would be “free to campaign against the party”, either independently or in collaboration with other anti-SAD and anti-Congress parties and outfits. The group listed out allegations of corruption against some candidates, and lashed out at the Delhi-based leadership of the party. They demanded that the party’s state in-charge Sanjay Singh and organisation-building head Durgesh Pathak be immediately sent back to Delhi and the reins be given to a local.
The ultimatum comes a day after the Hoshiarpur-based coordinator of the party’s NRI wing and fund-raising in-charge for the US, Virinder Singh Parihar, wrote an open letter to Kejriwal in which he levelled allegations of corruption. He wrote that Kejriwal has surrounded himself with “sycophants”. “Kejriwal-ji, you [are] talking about eliminating corruption, while your observers are corrupt. I will provide a list of persons cheated and looted by them,” he wrote, alleging that Rs 2 crore per constituency had been collected . “All this money, which comes to approximately Rs 200 crore, belongs to the people of Punjab. You must return it. I also know who transported this money to Delhi and which vehicles were used,” he added.
On Wednesday, the party’s national executive member Naveen Jairath too issued posters in Hoshiarpur making his displeasure known for having been ignored in favour of Paramjit Sachdeva as candidate. Early this week, Kejriwal faced protests from AAP workers during his rally at Nihalsinghwala in Moga against Baghapurana candidate GS Kang and senior leader HS Phoolka, who is fighting from Dakha. The workers said Kang is an “outsider” and has been given the ticket only because he is “close” to Phoolka.
Party volunteers in Jalandhar have protested against the choice of candidates for Kartarpur and Adampur, while there is disquiet in Patran and Malerkotla too.