Even before the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced its first list of candidates for the assembly polls, bushfires of protests against the ‘finalised’ candidates erupted at many places in the state on Wednesday evening.
Former bureaucrat Hardip Singh Kingra, a ticket hopeful from Faridkot, quit the party on Wednesday in what seemed to be in protest against having been denied a ticket. Kingra, who retired as chairman of the National Scheduled Caste Finance and Development Corporation, GOI, joined the AAP in 2013 and was the party’s spokesperson and head of its finance committee. He was among the five people whose names were under consideration for the ticket from Faridkot. The ticket, say sources, is going to Gurdip Singh Sekhon, another AAP leader from the area.
Lashing out against AAP, Kingra said AAP had “degraded” and become worse than traditional parties. He said the Delhi AAP team led by Durgesh Pathak has destroyed the party in Punjab and had made sycophancy “a norm” in the party.
In Mohali, where the party’s legal head Himmat Singh Shergill’s name is said to have been finalised, 19 out of the 30 other ticket hopefuls passed a resolution against Shergill, saying that he was “unacceptable” as candidate. They said he was not even present at the meeting where the volunteers proposed names. They further alleged that Shergill has not visited his constituency after the parliamentary elections where people voted for him. They said voters openly say that his “behaviour with them was rude and unbecoming of a political leader.”
When contacted, Shergill said the resolution was of no value. “There are no allegations against me. The only thing they are holding against me that I did not attend the meeting where volunteers proposed my name. It has happened at many other places. They are saying all this because they feel they have been denied tickets,” he said.
Samar Bir Singh, who is tipped to be AAP’s candidate from Fazilka, also faced protests from a group of workers who are insisting that the ticket be given to somebody from the town itself. Samar Bir belongs to a village nearby. In Ludhiana (West) where Ahbab Grewal’s name is said to have been finalised, supporters of other candidates went to the extent of alleging that the party’s agents were demanding Rs 1 crore for a ticket.
From Talwandi Sabo, candidature of Prof Baljinder Kaur—the party’s women wing chief—has been withheld owing to pending allegations against her. Sources said there was a rethink on the names of former Punjab IG Jagdish Mittal from Barnala and Arjuna awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema from Sultanpur Lodhi. Some Sikh organisations have protested against Mittal for the role he played during terrorism. Circle presidents and officebearers of the party in Sultanpur Lodhi had on Tuesday threatened to boycott the party if Cheema is given the ticket. Names of Giani Sarup Singh Kadiana from Phillaur, former wrestler Kartar Singh Pehalwan from Tarn Taran and Master Baldev Singh from Jaito, which are said to be in the final list, are also being reconsidered.
AAP volunteers recommended nearly 500 names for 26 assembly seats to the campaign committee, which forwarded its list to the party’s screening committee. The screening committee met on Sunday and shortlisted nearly 130 names, forwarding these to the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) headed by AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. On Monday morning, before leaving for a 12-day meditation break, Kejriwal finalised 23 candidates, withholding two names. The list was to be made public by the party’s Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh through a press conference on Tuesday. However, sources said, the announcement was again deferred following complaints and affidavits filed by AAP volunteers and workers against some of the ‘finalised’ candidates. If the much-delayed list is not announced in the next two days, it will be out only after Kejriwal comes back from his Vipassana.
O In Mohali, party’s legal head Himmat Singh Shergill’s name is being opposed.
O Samar Bir Singh, who is tipped to be candidate from Fazilka, also faced protests from workers.
O Names of Giani Sarup Singh Kadiana from Phillaur and Kartar Singh Pehalwan from Tarn Taran are also being reviewed.