The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing yet another revolt, this time over the poll ticket to car dealer HS Walia from Jalandhar Cantonment, with all other aspirants from the segment joining hands and alleging that the “deal” had been made for Rs 2 crore “at the behest of a senior leader close to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal”.
The group, led by former Indian women’s hockey team captain Rajbir Kaur and senior journalist Major Singh, held a meeting in Jalandhar on Monday morning and demanded that Kejriwal take back Walia’s ticket “in the next 48 hours”. This comes close on the heels of two other leaders, who were replaced as candidates, alleging corruption within the party.
“We were ready to give this party our best; but today the party has shown that it is also ruled by people who are selling tickets,” Arjuna Awardee Rajbir, who joined the AAP in May, wrote in an open letter to Kejriwal. “Sadly, I have to announce that my beliefs and trust in AAP have been shattered. AAP is believed to be known for its integrity and promises, but none has been shown in the recent activity where a person with less status and standard and an outsider has achieved the ticket.”
The meeting was also attended by former AAP’s state sports wing general secretary Jagdeep Singh, who is also a former Indian hockey player; women’s wing leader Jasvir Kaur Gill, media coordinator Atam Parkash Bablu, Sikh community leader Jagjeet Singh Gaba, and the party’s circle in-charge, Nipun Jain, besides Dr Inderjit Singh Bhalla.
“I think only one quality that he (Walia, who is Jalandhar car dealer association president) managed to show is his hands full of money. AAP, whose main agenda is a corruption-free country, is not different from other political parties whose leaders are corrupted,” she wrote.
“Walia has been telling in open about buying this ticket from the past sometime. There were reports that he even gifted a car to a senior leader working for the party in Punjab. However, all these reports got confirmed on Sunday with his candidature,” said another group member, Jagdeep Gill, who left his job as a marketing manager with the Punjab and Sind Bank in February to join the party.
Major Singh, counted amongst the seniormost journalists of the state, said he had left his job in a Punjabi daily for the AAP after Kejriwal exhorted him to “support the cause of Punjab”.
“I fondly remember a meeting with Kejriwal in which he directed Sanjay Singh (state affairs in-charge and Durgesh Pathak (national organisation-building head) to keep in touch with me. We were not here to get tickets but we were left embarrassed as the party preferred a controversial car dealer also involved in illegal business of finance,” he said.
Rajbir said she stuck with the party even after her husband Gurmail Singh’s services were “taken from him right after my joining the AAP”. It must be mentioned that Rajbir, who led the Indian team in four Asian Games, had alleged that her husband and hockey Olympian, Gurmail Singh, had been “forcibly relieved” from the Punjab police; though the government had denied any link and cited an indictment by court for wrongly holding a murder accused innocent.
- The Jalandhar Cantt revolt in AAP comes a day after AAP replaced its Nakodar and Balluana candidates. From Nakodar, the party’s NRI wing chief Jagtar Singh Sanghera was replaced by a former Akali
- A day before that, a group of rebels led by the party’s Tarn Taran farmer wing leader, Harinder Singh Zira, held a meeting in Jalandhar and announced to contest on all 117 seats against the official nominees, “many of whom were given tickets for money by the Delhi leadership”.
- 10 days ago, hours after he accused top party leaders Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak of seeking Rs 1 crore for campaign or lose his ticket, Vinod Kumar was replaced as candidate from Bhoa segment. It replaced Dr Ranjodh Singh Sran from Dharamkot too over a “listless” campaign.
- The party has been beset by revolts particularly since it opened a can of worms in August by sacking its then state unit chief Sucha Singh Chhotepur over alleged bribery to award tickets.