Backed by leader of Opposition in the Punjab assembly HS Phoolka, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira spilled the beans by raising a voice of dissent against the party’s Delhi-based central leadership at the Baisakhi congregation here on Thursday.
In absence of the central leaders, including Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, Khaira raised pitch for “introspection”, saying that Delhi leaders flawed in tickets distribution, besides wrongly imposing the “Delhi model” in the Punjab assembly elections.
“We tried to convince them that Delhi model of contesting polls will not work in Punjab, but to no avail. They had the notion that people in Punjab will vote for the party symbol rallying behind one face as happened in Delhi. But people in Punjab vote for a candidate,” said Khaira.
“It was the party’s duty to give tickets after consulting volunteers. The day we compromised on this, it created doubts in voters’ mind. Had we remained firm on our principals, we could have won 100 seats,” he said.
“Inner party democracy is needed so the cadres and the leaders can have their say,” Khaira said, getting applause from the thin crowd that gathered at the party’s congregation.
Besides, not declaring a CM candidate also went against the party, he said, adding “we lost a golden chance to form a government in Punjab.”
Asking party’s Delhi leadership to give Punjab leaders a free hand in the state, AAP’s chief whip said: “It’s easy to find fault with electronic voting machines, but we should look into the mistakes we committed during campaigning.”
Speaking on the occasion, Phoolka said he had expressed reservation on ticket distribution. “The result was that my photo was removed from party banners and I was not inducted in the different party committees,” he said.
Reacting to Khaira’s statement, party’s state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich said: “You (Khaira) talked about inner party democracy but there is also inner party discipline. We should raise these issues at the central platform and I am ready to accompany you to meet party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal.”