Stepping in to set the party’s Punjab house in order, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal will station himself in the state till the assembly polls early next year.
In a three-minute video clip recorded by Punjab-origin supporters of the party in Italy on Saturday, Kejriwal said he would be in the poll-bound state from September 8 to 11 after which he would be off for 10 days for a surgery. “After that, I will be in Punjab and will take charge of the state unit in my hands,” he said.
The appointment of an otherwise political lightweight Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi as the party’s convener in Punjab also points towards the AAP’s top leader taking over the party reins in the state.
Seven of the 13 zone coordinators of the party split on September 2 throwing their weight behind the sacked convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
Hinting at taking a final decision on Chhotepur, who is yet to be removed from the party following a cash packet sting video, Kejriwal said all those who have “done anything wrong” would be thrown out. He added that those who were upset with the party, including volunteers, would be coaxed to come back. Kejriwal added that the party was a victim of a misinformation campaign of the opposition parties.
Party sources add that Kejriwal will be meeting party men working at various levels, hoping to get a direct feedback about AAP leaders in Punjab. He will also hold meetings with volunteers supporting the breakaway faction.
Party rebels allege that Kejriwal was not open to feedback against the national organisation building in-charge Durgesh Pathak and his team of Delhi observers. “Whenever we sent a message to Kejriwal for a meeting, we are told by his personal assistant that we should meet Durgesh or Sanjay Singh (the party affairs in-charge in Punjab). He never appreciated that we wanted to meet him about them. Where do we go if we have something to share in confidence about Durgesh?” said Jeevanjot Kaur, member of the intellectual wing of the party.
Non-resident Indian Amandeep Singh Boparai, a party volunteer who founded the party’s unit in the San Francisco Bay area in 2013, and is working with the anti-corruption wing of the party, said he met Kejriwal on August 19 after the first two lists of candidates were announced. “We had gathered inputs about the candidates from party volunteers. Some did not come clean on the three ‘C’ criteria (corrupt, characterless, criminal) of the party for a candidate. We shared the inputs with him after which he said: Have you found anyone qualified or not? After saying this, he walked out of the meeting,” Boparai said.
The final programme of Kejriwal’s tour from September 8 to 11 is yet to be decided. He will be in Moga on September 11 to release the farmers’ manifesto. The party’s top man is also likely to finalise the location of a new “home” in Punjab during this trip.
AAP’s co-incharge in Punjab and Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh said the party would not purchase a house for Kejriwal but would take one on rent or would ask a party volunteer make the national convener his guest till the elections. “Where will it be located is still to be decided,” he said at a press conference on Saturday.