The first rumblings of serious discontent within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seem to be coming to the fore. Senior advocate HS Phoolka, who is considered to be a close confidant of AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal released a video on Friday saying that no one should approach him for the ticket (for the upcoming assembly polls in Punjab). Virtually declaring that he has no say in the party, Phoolka further suggests that ticket aspirants should flock to AAP’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur as “it is now clear that he is the supreme leader (of the party) in the state.”
Phoolka, who was the party’s candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Ludhiana, had resigned from all office posts of the AAP in September 2015 to focus full time on the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases. Close aides, however, point out that he was actively involved in AAP’s activities in Punjab and had recently concluded a successful three-nation tour to garner NRIs’ support for the party in the elections. “He was expecting a position in the all-important political affairs committee (PAC) of the party in the run-up to the assembly polls. However, his name does not find a mention even in the list of the national executive committee released by AAP on Wednesday,” said an aide.
The video released by Phoolka shows him addressing his supporters. “The process of allotting ticket is on. You call me, send me messages and some of you even come and wait for me at my Ludhiana office. Others even come to Delhi to meet me. I refuse to meet you and you might think that I am being arrogant. But I have no role in distribution of tickets,” he says.
Below: A video as uploaded by a supporter of Phoolka
“There is a campaign committee, I’m not a member of that. There’s a screening committee, I’m not a member of that. There is a manifesto committee, I’m not even a member of that. And after the elections held on Thursday, I’m not even in the national executive or the political affairs committee (PAC). I am just like you a small worker of the party. So, there is no need to come to me and waste your time,” he adds.
“It’s now clear that Chhotepur (who was included as the ex-officio member in the AAP national executive) is the supreme leader of the party in Punjab. Please go to him, if you are a ticket aspirant,” he concludes.
While Phoolka’s absence from AAP’s decision-making bodies had surprised many, his video reaction is being seen as a clear sign of his resentment. Others are seeing it as Phoolka’s exit from the race for the chief minister’s post, while boosting Chhotepur’s chances.
When asked, Chhotepur said he had not seen the video. “I have great respect for HS Phoolka. He is a wise man but I have no clue whether he has said all this in a state of happiness or unhappiness,” said Chhotepur.