Former Punjab convener of the AAP Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who was sacked on charges of corruption, said he will not go back to the party that has people who “conspired” to end his political career.
Chhotepur was removed from the post of convener last week following a cash sting operation that showed him accepting money from an Aam Aadmi Party supporter, barely six months ahead of the assembly polls in the state. A two-member committee was formed to inquire into the sting and other allegations of bribery against him.
Talking to Hindustan Times a day after he was approached by AAP’s Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh to move towards reconciliation, Chhotepur said he had burnt his bridges with the party that tried to “kill him politically”.
“I am being approached to reconcile by someone or the other from their camp every day. But I have made my stance clear. I will not work for a party that has in it persons who tried their best to end my political career. It is only because of the guru’s grace that I was saved by my supporters and volunteers,” he said.
Sources said Sanjay Singh and Chhotepur met at the latter’s house on Monday night. Sanjay Singh is said to have told Chhotepur that “all his demands were acceptable”.
The AAP’s placatory move comes in wake of the party carrying out an “impact assessment” exercise after sacking Chhotepur. The party has also decided to put the appointment of a new Punjab convener on hold to avoid fuelling factionalism in the state unit ahead of the assembly elections next year.
To explain the U-turn, party sources said “a large section within the party” was “convinced” by Chhotepur’s explanation that he was forced to arrange money on his own to run the state unit and did not get into any deal with those who paid him cash.
Refusing to name anyone, Chhotepur said the AAP that stood for the cause of humble ordinary men has been handed over to a “power-drunk man” in Punjab, who thought everyone was servile to him.
“Even the most hardworking people, both elderly and youngsters, were disrespected and dismissed like servants,” he said.
When asked if there was any chance of reconciliation in future, he said: “Even today when I think of the conspiracy they hatched to end my reputation, I am filled with a strong sense of hurt. These greenhorns running the party should have realised that I am not using AAP to make money.”
“I thought they would appreciate the fact that I have not taken a single penny from the party’s central pool and managed to hold fort for over two years using resources gathered from my supporters. Instead, they used the cheap tactic of sending a person, well known to me, taking advantage of my openness and get the so-called video made. It felt like being stabbed by a brother,” he added.
Chhotepur said he will be going to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple on September 3.
“I want to thank the almighty for giving me the strength and support. I will seek further directions from my supporters,” he said on his future course of action.
When asked about what he will do if his supporters request him to go back to AAP, he said: “I will do whatever they ask me to. But right now they are equally agitated about the way AAP has treated me.”
Chhotepur’s supporters have demanded his reinstatement before September 1, failing which they will protest against Delhi-based party leaders and their appointed persons in the state.
Intellectual wing head resigns
Former bureaucrat and party leader RR Bhardwaj, who joined AAP in April 2014, has decided to resign from the party in support of Chhotepur. Former Congress leader Bhardwaj heads the intellectual wing of the party in the state. He is a special invitee to the team preparing the party’s manifesto.
Bhardwaj said he will address a press conference on Friday to give details of the reasons behind his decision.
Bhardwaj served as the chairperson of the planning board in Punjab during Captain Amarinder Singh’s regime from 2002 to 2007. He was inducted into the party by AAP leader (now suspended MP) Dharamvira Gandhi.