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Chhotepur floats Aapna Punjab Party, invites Navjot Sidhu for lead role

A day after resigning from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Sucha Singh Chhotepur on Saturday launched his new political outfit, ‘Apna Punjab Party’ at Chandigarh Press Club.

punjab Updated: Oct 01, 2016 20:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Aam Aadmi Party,Sucha Singh Chhotepur,Arvind Kejriwal
Sucha Singh Chhotepur and his close aide Hardeep Singh Kingra at the launch Aapna Punjab Party in Chandigarh on Saturday.(Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)

A day afterformally quittingthe Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), its sacked Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur launched a new regional political outfit — Aapna Punjab Party (APP) — that will field or support candidates on all the 117 seats in the forthcoming assembly polls.

Announcing the launch of the party at a press conference here on Saturday, Chhotepur said that all like-minded parties and individuals were welcome to join his party or ally with it for the creation of a “Punjab Progressive Alliance (PPA)” for the polls. He said to begin with, the party was joining hands with the group of suspended AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi.

Chhotepur said cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s group was welcome to join the PPA. “I have been in talks with his group. It is for them to decide now. I have already offered to give Sidhu the lead role in the alliance. For the sake of Punjab, I don’t mind working in the background,” he said.

Read | AAP sacks Chhotepur as Punjab chief after he fires at Kejriwal

“My party will show to the state how a democratically controlled party works. Every person, down to the last worker, will be given a free hand to work. Give us 15 days and you will see the difference between our and other parties’ working,” he said.

Chhotepur said the party will not ally with the SAD-BJP, Congress or AAP. “These are the parties we are fighting against. We are against the Badals, who have ruined a great regional party. They run SAD as ‘Badal and company’ and the chief minister had put the interests of his son and daughter-in-law ahead of that of the state. It is unfortunate that his family has progressed economically and Punjab has been ruined,” he said.

Chhotepur lashed out at the Congress, saying the party had left the state feeling cheated. “They failed to play the role of the opposition and instead sold out the state’s interests to the Akalis,” he said.

Chhotepur and supporters share sweets at the launch of APP. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)

He said the AAP had misled the people to make them believe that they were different. “But in the end, they turned out to be as corrupt and as power hungry. Arvind Kejriwal (AAP’s national convener) does not trust any Punjabi and he and his team in Delhi have cheated Punjabis. The volunteers who contributed to the AAP in cash and kind for a better tomorrow, a better Punjab, are feeling cheated. They have realised that they have been backing the wrong people,” he said.

He also released the “flag” of the party on the occasion. Leaders of the Rashtriya Lok Swaraj Party, Punjab Dalit Kranti Manch, Jai Jawan Jai Kisan and Indian Labour Party have announced support to Chhotepur. Ranbir Sharma of the Rashtriya Lok Swaraj Party said his party volunteers who were active in Haryana will assist Chhotepur in the elections. “We will propose Chhotepur as the chief ministerial candidate once the PPA is created,” he said.

Chhotepur said the state committee of the new party and district teams will be announced in the days to come, former bureaucrat Hardip Singh Kingra will be the party’s general secretary and former Jalandhar zone in-charge of AAP Dr HS Cheema the treasurer.

Chhotepur had resigned from the AAP after he was sacked as the state convener in August following allegations of his taking money from a supporter had surfaced.

Note: An earlier version of this report and other reports over the past few days spelt the first word of the new party’s name as ‘Apna’, whereas it has since been announced as ‘Aapna’, hence updated in this report.

First Published: Oct 01, 2016 16:09 IST