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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

After MCD poll debacle, daggers out in Punjab AAP too

VENTING IRE: Leaders say not naming CM candidate in Punjab biggest blunder, want central leadership to introspect instead of covering up failures

punjab Updated: Apr 26, 2017 21:53 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal(HT File Photo)

Daggers are out in the Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) following party’s drubbing in the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls with state leaders slamming the central leadership and asking it to “introspect” instead of covering up the failures.

The party had earlier lost assembly polls in Goa and Punjab and also suffered a defeat in the Rajouri Garden (New Delhi) bypoll. Party’s state leaders, who were blaming the Delhi leadership for Punjab poll drubbing in a hush-hush manner till now, came out in the open on Wednesday, saying the party committed the “biggest blunder” by not naming a chief ministerial candidate.

“If we have announced the CM face before the polls, the political scape in the state would have been different,” party’s Dhaka MLA and Punjab leader of opposition HS Phoolka said. He, however, refused to comment on the party’s defeat in Delhi MC polls, but was vocal about its “poor” poll strategy in Punjab.

He hoped that the party would discuss the real issues that led to its defeat in Punjab and Delhi municipal polls. “The party needs to introspect. We will discuss all these issues,” said Phoolka.

Harvinder Singh Phoolka, leader of opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha
Harvinder Singh Phoolka, leader of opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha ( HT File Photo )

“There were many leaders from other parties who wanted to join the AAP, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, Jagmeet Brar, Manpreet Singh Badal, Manish Tewari and Pargat Singh, but their entry was scuttled. Imagine if they all have been with us, things would have been different,” said Phoolka, who said he met AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal twice after the Punjab poll debacle, but it never came up for discussion.

Talking to HT, party’s chief whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira said Punjab leaders should be given a free hand keeping in view the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “We should not repeat the mistakes committed during the Punjab elections and the MCD polls,” said Khaira.

Of all AAP leaders in Punjab, Khaira had been vocal against the central leadership after the assembly poll results. “The ticket distribution was flawed and there was over indulgence of Delhi leaders,” he said.

Party’s Punjab convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich said the central party leadership failed miserably to make a contact with party activists at the ground level.

AAP’s Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, who was on the forefront of the party’s election campaign in Punjab, had earlier said that party contested the state polls without a captain and there was no one to take the responsibility. He said the party should look within to find out the reasons which stopped its march to power in Punjab.

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann
AAP MP Bhagwant Mann ( HT File Photo )

Contrary to Kejriwal’s stand, Mann said there was no use in finding fault with the electronic voting machines (EVMs). He also slammed the party leadership for behaving like a mohalla cricket team. Mann, who lost to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal from the Jalalabad seat in the assembly elections, said overconfidence of some central leaders spoiled the AAP’s poll prospects in Punjab.

The party’s leadership could expect more acrimony in the days to come as AAP’s NRI leaders from Canada and the US rejected central leaders Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak alleging that they ran Punjab not with the will of partnership but with discriminating attitude towards the volunteers and local leaders. They also wrote to Kejriwal in March, asking him to respond by May 9, after the Delhi municipal polls.

Sukhbir seeks Kejriwal resignation

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday said AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal should immediately resign as the Delhi CM after the MCD polls debacle. “The results are a referendum to the two-year of non-performance and negative politics of the AAP government in Delhi,” he said.

Meanwhile, former CM Parkash Singh Badal thanked the Delhi voters for showing their faith in the BJP-SAD combine and giving a huge mandate in its favour. “Voters in Delhi have shown that they want development and their government to cooperate with other stakeholders to deliver on its promises. “As the AAP revolves around Kejriwal, he should take the moral responsibility for party’s defeat in Delhi,” he said. HTC