Who after HS Phoolka? AAP divided over Punjab opposition leader post
Popular perception says the replacement could be from among three MLAs — chief whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira, former journalist Kanwar Sandhu and state unit co-president Aman Arora.punjab Updated: Jul 11, 2017 09:02 IST
It’s been just four months since the Congress government took charge in Punjab, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which defied predictions to finish a distant second, is already looking for a replacement to HS Phoolka as leader of Opposition. A lawyer whose public image is based on his fighting the cases of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Phoolka has announced to quit the position after the Delhi Bar Council barred him from law practice while also holding the position.
Popular perception says the replacement could be from among three MLAs — chief whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira, former journalist Kanwar Sandhu and state unit co-president Aman Arora. But opinion within is divided. Phoolka too suggested these names.
“Why from among just these three?” asked the party’s Dirba MLA Harpal Singh Cheema, suggesting, “One among the rest could also take over.”
The party has 20 members in the 117-member House.
Jagdev Singh Kamalu, legislator from Maur, pitched for Khaira or Sandhu, suggesting that the top post be given to “someone experienced and senior”. Sarabjeet Kaur Manuke, the party’s deputy leader in the Vidhan Sabha, only said, “Someone who can follow the party’s ideology of transparency in a non-corrupt way for betterment of Punjab should be given the top post.”
State AAP women’s wing chief and Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur played safe: “I am with the party’s decision.” Asked about her possibly taking over, she again, “I leave it to the party.”
Meanwhile, AAP state president Bhagwant Mann and Aman Arora were in Delhi on Monday to meet the leadership.
Mann told HT, “Our MLAs will decide on a new incumbent. Earlier, too, it was the MLAs who elected me and Aman (as president and co-president). It’s not a timebound decision as we are not heading for an assembly session. My party will choose a suitable person.”
Arora said, “So far, no discussion has been held on the issue. The process is still to begin.”
Kovind or Meira?
The AAP leadership met in Delhi on Monday to also decide whom to support in the election for President of India. There were earlier reports that it will go with Congress‘ Meira Kumar. But its two-MLA ally Lok Insaaf Party in Punjab has announced support for BJP’s Ram Nath Kovind.
“The party will hold the first round of discussions today. Let us see if we reach a conclusion,” said Mann. The party is also expected to decide on an organisational structure in Punjab while a discussion on the post of legislative group leader was expected too.