Differences between top leaders of the AAP’s national leadership and the Punjab unit came out in the open on Friday with its later-removed Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur saying he won’t leave the party on his own.
“I will not leave the party. I have built it brick by brick in the last two-and-a-half years. Let the party take action against me. I have done nothing wrong,” Chhotepur told the media in Chandigarh on Friday afternoon, hours before he was removed from the post of Punjab convener and a two-member probe panel formed to look into allegations against him.
The AAP leader, who was the party’s most visible face in Punjab till now, alleged that he had been framed by a “conspiracy of my own friends” in the Aam Aadmi Party.
Chhotepur’s comments came hours ahead of AAP national leadership meeting in New Delhi to discuss the controversy around a video clip in which Chhotepur is allegedly seen accepting money from a party supporter.
The AAP leader particularly blamed AAP national spokesman Durgesh Pathak for the present situation and claimed that Pathak was in “complete control” of the party for Punjab affairs and was handling ticket to candidates, joining of leaders of other parties as well as funds.
“I am not such a light man to get sold over one or two lakh rupees. I have spent 40 years in politics and no one can raise a finger on me. There is a clear conspiracy against me by some people to oust me,” Chhotepur said.
He added that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had not given him the opportunity to explain his side.
“It is unfortunate for Punjab (the present controversy). The AAP was the state’s last hope. Some of the tickets have been distributed wrongly,” Chhotepur said.
A few AAP leaders from Punjab had on Thursday written to Kejriwal seeking action against Chhotepur.
The internal controversy in the AAP started recently after the emergence of a video clip showing an AAP supporter giving money to Chhotepur.
In the first two lists of 32 candidates released by the AAP, Chhotepur’s name was strangely not cleared for any assembly seat.
He was also not present at both press conferences where the lists were announced by AAP leaders, especially of Sanjay Singh, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Punjab.
Condemning the “dirty tricks resorted to by AAP leaders from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana against the son of the soil Sucha Singh Chhotepur”, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh said on Thursday that AAP leaders from outside the state had taken control of the party.
“Kejriwal has a history of using and throwing away people. He did it with his mentor Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Chhotepur is only the next and not the last in line,” Amarinder said.
The AAP is posing a challenge to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance and the opposition Congress in the Punjab assembly polls likely to be held in February next year.