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AAP crisis in Punjab aggravates, action against the rebels likely soon

Mann said that Khaira and other dissident MLAs should quit the assembly seats they won on the AAP symbol, form their own party, try to get re-elected and then have all the autonomy they want.

punjab Updated: Aug 08, 2018 09:35 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
AAP crisis,Punjab,Aam Aadmi Party
Garhshankar MLA Jai Krishan Singh Rodi (right) with AAP legislators Sukhpal Khaira and Kanwar Sandhu at a press conference in Chandigarh on August 6. (HT File )

The ongoing crisis in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) aggravated further on Tuesday with the party rebels setting up their separate political affairs committee and two senior state leaders strongly indicating disciplinary action against them soon due to anti-party activities.

Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, who appears set to return as the state unit president, warned that if the dissident MLAs continue to violate the party guidelines this way, legal action will be taken against them. “Koi majboori nahin hai. Jaldi yeh khushkhabri bhi denge (There is no compulsion. We will give you this good news soon),” Mann told reporters in Chandigarh on being asked why the AAP leadership was reluctant to act against the rebel legislators.

The strong indication of disciplinary action came from Mann, who repeatedly stressed on discipline in the party, about one-and-a-half hours after the dissident camp led by Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira announced its own separate political affairs committee (PAC) to “reconstitute” the party’s “autonomous” organisational set-up under a new president in the state.

Mann said that Khaira and other dissident MLAs should quit the assembly seats they won on the AAP symbol, form their own party, try to get re-elected and then have all the autonomy they want.

AAP state unit co-president Dr Balbir Singh also said that Khaira and others were forcing the party to take action by continuing their acts of gross indiscipline. “AAP is a national party. What authority do they have to constitute such a committee? If such things are possible, each party will have many PACs in every state,” he told HT.

Khaira keeps the pot boiling

Khaira, who has support of seven of the 20 party MLAs, revolted against the AAP’s central leadership after he was unceremoniously removed from the post of leader of opposition (LOP) two weeks ago. Though Khaira says he would not break the party, he appears to have reached the point of no return due to his frequent run-ins with the leadership.

The dissidents were apparently expecting the party to act against them after the volunteers’ convention in Bathinda last week, but it decided not to act. Though not a legally tenable move as per experts, the Khaira camp’s latest act of constituting their separate PAC is also being primarily seen as another move to keep the pot boiling. Any split in the party without attracting the anti-defection law is only possible if 14 MLAs (two-thirds of the total strength of 20) come together to form a separate unit.

The ad-hoc PAC set up by the dissident group will have Khaira, Kanwar Sandhu (MLA from Kharar), Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa), Jagdev Singh Kamalu (Maur), Master Baldev Singh (Jaitu), Pirmal Singh Khalsa (Bhadaur), Jagtar Singh Hissowal (Raikot) and Jai Krishan Rodi (Garhshankar) as members.

“While Manshahia will be the member secretary, the committee will also have eight special invitees,” Sandhu said in a statement. An ad-hoc state executive committee will also be announced shortly.

The Kharar MLA said the PAC will monitor and supervise the appointment of the state president, besides setting up the party structure at the state, district, assembly constituency and block levels.

“Once the state political structure is in place, the ad-hoc PAC and state executive will stand dissolved. A new state executive and PAC will be constituted,” he added. On August 2, the dissidents had in their Bathinda meeting passed resolutions to declare the state unit “autonomous” and “scrap” the existing party set-up in the state.

First Published: Aug 08, 2018 09:32 IST