The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP’s) inaugurated its state office here on Thursday, amid chaotic scenes triggered after the party’s volunteers manhandled journalists.
The AAP office is situated near the Lovely Professional University here on Thursday, and observers say the site was a deliberate choice in order to woo the youth before the 2017 assembly polls.
“By engaging the youth with our ideology, the aim is to produce more than 5,000 young volunteers for the assembly polls from Jalandhar district alone,” an AAP leader told HT.
The party’s first step towards the polls, however, was marred by friction with the media, which boycotted the event. As mediapersons tried to enter the newly-opened office, they were stopped by AAP volunteers guarding the main entry like bouncers. The volunteers did not let mediapersons cover the press conference scheduled to be held by AAP’s Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh, state convener Sucha Singh Chottepur and MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh.
The volunteers, who were visibly arrogant, repeatedly asked the journalists for identity cards, and insisted that their leaders had told them not to allow anyone enter the building.
The volunteers also tried to snatch cameras from photojournalists and also called the mediapersons “Deshdrohi (traitors), bikau (corrupt), Akalis (Akali agents)”, prompting the journalists to boycott teh function.
The chaos continued even as Sanjay Singh, Chhotepur and Mann watched but did not intervene. Later, however, Sanjay, Chottepur, Mann and Sadhu Singh reached the Punjab Press Club at Jalandhar and apologised.
Meanwhile, Chottepur said the AAP will monitor all its activities in Punjab from the state office. He said the decision to set-up the state head office in Phagwara was taken in view of the area being easily approachable from all corners of the state, and also because Doaba was a hub of NRIs.
Maan said by June next year, the AAP will start announcing its candidates for the 2017 polls. The screening of AAP candidates for all constituencies will start by March next year, he added.
Capt slams AAP
Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh condemned the AAP workers for “hooliganism and misbehavior”.
In a statement, Amarinder said the AAP had shown its real “anarchist and autocratic” character by misbehaving with those who had been fearlessly conveying the party’s message to the people.
Amarinder expressed his solidarity with the journalists and said those responsible for the incident needed to be punished.
Ridiculing the apology tendered by the AAP leaders, the Congress leader said, “You cannot let your goons loose on the press and then try to get away with an apology without even meaning it.”
Pickpockets have a field day
In the AAP gathering of around 300 workers, more than six persons lost their mobile phones and two lost their wallets. Organisers were seen repeatedly asking the public to save their gadgets. The building hired for the AAP state office, belongs to SAD leader from Jalandhar Cantonment.