The appointment of political greenhorn Gurpeet Ghuggi (45), who joined the Aam Aadmi Party just six just months ago, as Punjab convener has come as a surprise.
The comedian-turned-politician has replaced the heavyweight Sucha Singh Chhotepur who was sacked after a ‘cash sting’. Earlier, there was speculation that Kejriwal-loyalist Himmat Singh Sergill will be elevated as the state unit chief.
Unlike Chhotepur’s past in Sikh politics, Ghuggi sports an all-colour non-political turban and is a neutral face. Ghuggi, who joined the AAP in February, banks on his gift of gab.
With no political experience, the going won’t be easy for Ghuggi, who himself described the appointment on Sunday as “a big responsibility”. His direct rivals would be political stalwarts Capt Amarinder Singh (Congress) and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal). Asked about Ghuggi’s elevation, a senior politician, who switched loyalties to AAP earlier this year, said the party “was taking Punjab cadres for granted, as if it is a banana republic”.
A string of controversies has already put the AAP on the back foot in the state. To add to its troubles, seven of its 13 zone coordinators while throwing their weight behind Chhotepur have announced their split from the parent party.
“The decision on Ghuggi was approved on phone by Kejriwal from Rome, and it was not necessary for the AAP’s political affairs committee to meet formally for the purpose,” a PAC member said.