As Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal rolls out farmers’ manifesto at Baghapurana in Moga on Sunday, it could be a “make-or-break” moment for the party, which is going through internal crisis in Punjab following sacking of Sucha Singh Chhotepur as the party’s state convener.
Kejriwal’s four-day visit, planned to set the party’s house in order in Punjab, ends with the manifesto release programme, which is expected to turn into a mega rally. Party’s newly appointed Punjab convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann have sent out audio and video messages through social media to their supporters to reach Moga at 2pm in large numbers and “witness history in the making”.
The aim is to mobilise huge crowds for a “show of strength” to bring the party back in the game. “Reach Dana Mandi at Baghapurana to know what the AAP will do for the farmers of the state. Be there to be part of Punjab’s history,” says Ghuggi in the video clip. This event is crucial for AAP’s fate in Punjab on many scores. The party has split and is facing rebellion at over a dozen places where it has declared candidates.
The anti-AAP forces — which have multiplied beyond the Akalis and the Congress in the past month — are nucleating their attack on it and are terming it a party of outsiders, akin to the East India Company and its leaders anti-Punjabi, anti-Sikh.
The party is also facing a leadership crisis — a struggle to find a Sikh leader of stature to be its face in Punjab. The appointment of Ghuggi, a political lightweight, to head the party in Punjab only proves the point. Kejriwal’s efforts to rope in former Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu backfired and the cricketer-turned-politician went on to announce his own front with Kejriwal central to his attack.
The party’s popular face in Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, too proved a liability during this period. He first got into trouble for making a video of Parliament and more recently was booked for abusing journalists during a rally at Bassi Pathana in Fatehgarh Sahib. Moreover, the party is yet to project its CM candidate in the state. The delay has led the opposition to claim that Kejriwal himself is eying the top position. “He will desert Delhi again and try to be the CM here,” deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged at a press conference on Saturday.