Members of a local NGO, which had supported the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) earlier, raised slogans against touring AAP leader Manish Sisodia here alleging that he had "refused to acknowledge" martyrs Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhagat Singh. Sisodia refuted the allegations, saying that it was a misunderstanding in communication blown out of proportion "by people sent by chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal".
It started after members of the NGO, Lok Bhalai Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Manch from Sarabha village, 12km from here, went to meet Sisodia and AAP's Delhi-based leader Jarnail Singh while they were convening a meeting with the party's district committees and Lok Sabha candidates as part of the party's structure-building exercise, at a hotel in Ludhiana on Wednesday. "Instead of listening to our issues, including the demand of status of 'national martyr' for Kartar Singh Sarabha, Sisodia said that he didn't know any Kartar Singh Sarabha or Bhagat Singh. We demand an immediate apology. Otherwise, we will stage protests to seek his ouster from the AAP," said the NGO's convener, Gurmeet Singh Bassi.
However, Sisodia said the members of the manch had not used the prefix 'Shaheed' while referring to the martyrs, so he could not immediately make out who they were referring to. "We all know martyrs Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhagat Singh as 'Shaheed', and I would never dare to speak disrespectfully for the great freedom fighters. AAP is a party of patriots," he added.
Sisodia alleged that the protesters were sent by CM Badal as he was worried looking at the popularity of the AAP in Punjab and "is bent upon damaging the image of the party".
Raid your own offices: AAP to Badals
AAP leader Manish Sisodia, on a tour of Punjab to build the party structure, on Wednesday commented on the recent 'raid' by CM Parkash Singh Badal at the offices of his ministers: "CM Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal should first conduct a raid at their offices which are known for having amassed public money." Badals had found nine ministers absent from their offices at the secretariat in Chandigarh.
On being asked if AAP's Mission Vistaar in Punjab was to strengthen the party for the 2017 assembly elections, the AAP leader thanked the people of the state for their "unconditional support" and said preparing for the elections was "a part of the programme, but not the only agenda". He also promised that the party would carry forward its crusade against illicit drugs and corruption.