Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday alleged that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is laying grounds to eliminate its leaders in the state. At a press conference here, AAP legal cell head and candidate from SAS Nagar (Mohali), Himmat Singh Shergill lashed out at Sukhbir saying his statement regarding Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI’s attempt to disturb peace of Punjab is a “deep-rooted and well-planned conspiracy to lay the ground for violence in the upcoming assembly polls”.
“It cannot be ruled out that under the garb of the ISI threat, Sukhbir may conspire attacks on AAP leaders in Punjab and also on party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal. His statement smells of a conspiracy to disturb peace of Punjab,” Shergill alleged. AAP candidates Harjot Bains from Sahnewal, Gurpreet Singh Lapran from Payal, Brig Raj Kumar (retd) from Balachaur, Santokh Singh Salana from Bassi Pathana and Amarjit Singh from Rupnagar were also present.
When questioned if he had any proof to back his theory of Sukhbir hatching a conspiracy to eliminate AAP leaders, Shergill said his statement should be brought before the public just like deputy CM’s statement had been brought in the public domain.
Claiming that the ISI had never got a single political leader murdered in Punjab in the past nine years, Shergill said the ISI bogey had been raised just four months before the election by Sukhbir to play “politics of fear.” When asked out if he was trying to “defend” ISI’s activities in the state, Shergill said he was not doing that: “Sukhbir must clarify which leader of Punjab was eliminated by the ISI and who are on its target.”
Asked if AAP leaders in Punjab would seek police security, Shergill said “We don’t require security by Sukhbir Badal, as people of Punjab have already provided us ample security in the form of immense support.”
At a press conference in New Delhi, too, AAP’s Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh reiterated the allegation. He also reacted to Sukhbir’s claim that AAP leaders are “aligning with radical groups of Punjab” and that pro-Khalistan, separatist groups are funding the party.
Terming Sukhbir “comedy minister”, he said, “Instead of making such baseless allegations, why does not he come up with proof about our sources of funding? Why does not he reveal the names of leaders who are on ISI radar?” He also referred to the past attack on Kejriwal’s convoy in Ludhiana. “He (Sukhbir) is making these allegations so that in the event of an attack, ISI is held responsible and not the SAD-BJP government,” Sanjay said.
Asked about reports of discontent in the party’s Punjab unit following the release of the first list of candidates for the 2017 assembly polls, Sanjay said Sucha Singh Chhotepur, party’s state convenor, will meet Kejriwal to sort out the issues. On whether AAP will declare its chief ministerial candidate in Punjab soon, he said the party will decide at an appropriate time as “we have a long list of leaders with absolute clean records”. (with PTI inputs from Delhi)