Lok Sabha Elections 2019: With 2 MLAs by Khaira’s side, AAP in a bind in Bathinda constituency
Two of Aam Aadmi Party’s MLAs, Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Nazar Singh Manshahi, have been supporting Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the Bholath MLA who was removed as leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly last year.Updated: Mar 28, 2019 12:52 IST
The faction-ridden Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) faces an uphill task in the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency this time, even as it did fairly well in most assembly seats of the segment in the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections.
In 2017, the party won five of the nine assembly segments in the Lok Sabha segment, with the Congress and SAD managing with two seats each. Moreover, it lost in the Bhucho assembly segment by narrow margin of 765 votes and remained second in Bathinda (urban).
But the party’s downhill journey in the state started in the wake of the removal of Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira as leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha last year. Two of its MLAs — Jagdev Singh Kamalu (Maur) and Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa) — have been supporting Khaira. They accompanied him during a roadshow on Monday when he launched his poll campaign.
In addition, Deepak Bansal, who remained second in the Bathinda (urban) assembly segment, Navjot Kaur Lambi, a crowd puller from Lambi, and other prominent party faces have also joined Khaira’s Punjab Ekta Party (PEP).
Manshahia said, “AAP has lost appeal among people. Had they got any formidable candidate in Bathinda, they would have announced by now. The AAP leadership approached me to contest from here but I had conveyed to them that I will think over it only if the party gets united. But they were adamant on having no patch-up with Khaira.”
So far, AAP has declared candidates from eight Lok Sabha seats, but not Bathinda.
AAP’s state core committee chief and Budhlada MLA Budh Ram said even as two party MLAs from the constituency are siding with Khaira, the party cadre was still intact.
“The party will announce its candidate for the seat by March 30. The priority is to field a local leader,” he said.
He said that the party MLAs who were part of Khaira’s roadshow should resign from the assembly.
“On the one hand, they continue to remain party MLA and on other hand they are siding with Khaira. It reflects of their dual character,” he said.
AAP’s Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljidner Kaur said since there is resentment among people against the Congress and the Akali Dal, the AAP’s base is still intact.
Apart from Bathinda, AAP had won five assembly seats only in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, considered a stronghold of party’s state chief and MP Bhagwant Mann. Of a total of 20 AAP MLAs in Punjab, 10 are from these two parliamentary segments only. With Khaira himself contesting from the segment, the AAP leadership is on tenterhooks.