The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, began a three-day tour of Punjab on Tuesday. Kejriwal will address a rally at Lambi, the constituency of the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday where he may announce candidature of Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh against the chief minister.
Kejriwal, who is staying at the UT guest house here, met and apologised to Dalit singer and activist Bant Singh Jhabbar — father of a rape victim from Mansa — who recently joined the AAP. The party had in the same event also welcomed into its fold two of Bant Singh’s attackers. Though the party had removed them within hours of their joining, Bant Singh was assuaged by Kejriwal personally.
National spokesman of the party Sanjay Singh said it was an honest mistake. “But we are ashamed for what had happened. The minute I was told by journalists in Bathinda about the two accused, I ordered their removal,” he told mediapersons here on Tuesday. Bant Singh said Kejriwal, along with other leaders, apologised to him and he had “forgiven” the party leaders and would continue to work for the AAP.
Kejriwal held a series of meetings with the zone in-charges through the day. He was to leave the state after the rally on Wednesday but has decided to extend the trip till Thursday. He will be staying in Moga on Tuesday night and leave for Amritsar on Thursday where he is planning to accompany some of the party candidates on their campaigning in Gurdaspur and Dera Baba Nanak.
The party is said to be on shaky ground in Majha and Kejriwal, said sources, has been advised to spend more time in Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Tarn Taran.
Meanwhile, as many as 13 of the 15 circle in-charges of the Anandpur Sahib assembly constituency waited to meet Kejriwal to protest against the candidature of Dr Sanjeev Gautam. Bhupinder Singh, a circle in-charge, said volunteers who had been working for years for the party in the area had been ignored and instead the ticket had been given to a turncoat. They were carrying pictures of Dr Gautam with leaders of the SAD, Congress, CPI, CPM and RSS.