Fissures within the Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to the fore again on Wednesday as its MPs Bhagwant Mann and Dharamvira Gandhi stayed away from the party’s ‘Beimaan Bhajao Punjab Bachao’ drive aimed at exposing corrupt politicians and gearing up workers for the 2017 Assembly elections.
The march was carried out by senior leaders, including Punjab political affair in-charge Sanjay Singh and AAP’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
While Sangrur MP Mann is said to be in Singapore to deliver a special lecture, Patiala lawmaker Gandhi claimed that he wasn’t invited for the rally. Both Mann and Gandhi had accused Chhotepur of working in an unconstitutional manner and demanded his removal from the convener’s post. The state executive committee, which includes the two MPs, had “passed” a resolution at a meeting in New Delhi on May 9 to sack Chhotepur. However, a day later, Sanjay Singh had denied any such development. Sanjay’s denial had left AAP MPs red-faced. The committee had also written to AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to appoint a new Punjab convener.
Lashing out at national and state leadership, Gandhi said all members of the state executive were not consulted before initiating the drive in Punjab. “Why should I participate in the campaign? No one invited me,” said Gandhi. He claimed that due to “inclusion of discredited leaders” from other parties into the AAP, there is lot of factionalism within the party.
“I’m focusing on development works in my constituency and have no time to attend a drive being led by one of the factionalist groups,” he said.
AAP’s Patiala district convener Jarnail Singh Manu said Gandhi was invited but he preferred to stay away. Chhotepur could not be contacted.