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Autonomy for AAP Punjab unit, not split, the way out: Phoolka

War within: Senior AAP leader reacts day after state unit fails to reach consensus on next step.

punjab Updated: Mar 18, 2018 09:47 IST
HTC and Agencies, Chandigarh
HS Phoolka,AAP Punjab,Arvind Kejriwal
HS Phoolka and Arvind Kejriwal(HT Photo)

Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader HS Phoolka on Saturday asked party MLAs in Punjab to seek “autonomy” for the state unit rather than forming a separate outfit in the best interests of the state, a day after the majority of party legislators contemplated a split.

Giving his views for the first time after party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) minister Bikram Singh Majithia on drug allegations, which pushed the state unit into a crisis, the former leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly and Dakha MLA also suggested that the state unit should function like a regional party with total independence on state matters.

“In best interest of Pb, my suggestion to Pb AAP MLAs — demand autonomy, not a separate party. AAP Punjab should function as a Regional party with an alliance with national AAP. In Punjab matters, total independence & on national issues, go by National leadership (sic),” Phoolka, a noted Supreme Court lawyer, tweeted.

The state leadership on Friday had contemplated breaking away and forming a separate unit after reports of Kejriwal’s apology to the former Akali minister for accusing him of running drug trade emerged, terming it a “meek surrender”, “painful” and “very unfortunate”.

A two-round marathon meeting was held on Friday by the AAP’s Punjab unit in Chandigarh in which a resolution on splitting from the Delhi unit and forming a separate unit was discussed, though the final decision on the same was deferred.

“Two to three resolutions were kept, which were discussed thoroughly. One among these was whether we should split from the Delhi unit and form a separate unit or should we continue like this. Consensus could not be built on this even though majority MLAs wanted to break away. The members said they were very angry with this apology while others felt that they wanted to ask Delhi leadership on apology issue. Therefore, the decision on this has been deferred for the time being,” senior AAP leader and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu had said on Friday.

“A vast majority of the leaders was of the view that why a separate unit of Punjab AAP should not be formed which will have alliance with Lok Insaf Party and also forge alliance with like-minded parties and can even go to the extent of having former Punjab unit convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur on board...,” AAP MLA and leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira had said.

In a further jolt, the Lok Insaf Party (LIP), the AAP’s ally in the state, had also snapped ties with the party in the wake of Kejriwal’s apology.

Sanjay: I stand by my allegations

AAP MP Sanjay Singh on Saturday said he would contest the defamation case filed by former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia against him even as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has apologised for alleging that Majithia was involved in the drug trade. Refusing to comment on the apology tendered by Kejriwal, Sanjay said: “I stand by whatever I have said in the past and irrespective of whatever is being said here and there. I will not retract from my stated stand.”

The AAP leader refused to be drawn into the controversy that has caused a virtual rebellion in the Punjab unit of the party after state chief Bhagwant Mann and another leader resigned from their posts.

“I will not comment on this. I have stated my position as an individual, who along with Arvind (Kejriwal) and Aashish Khaitan are party to the defamation case filed against us,” Sanjay Singh told IANS.

The 45-year-old also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party of “subverting democracy” and “undermining parliamentary procedures”. IANS

Sajjan Cheema defends Kejriwal

Amid the banner of revolt Punjab Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders raised against their national convener Arvind Kejriwal for tendering an apology to former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia over drug allegations, party leader Sajjan Singh Cheema has defended the Delhi CM.

Cheema, who unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Sultanpur Lodhi, advised in a social media post the AAP state leadership to have patience before taking the extreme step of splitting the party. A former basketball player and an Arjuna awardee, Cheema wrote the post on his Facebook page.

“I thought that Congress leaders donning turbans have never gone against their party on the Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. Is it easy to visit courts for 24 times a month? If he has tendered an apology, it should not be a big issue,” he said in the post written in Punjabi.

He, however, acknowledged that the Delhi CM should have taken Punjab leadership in confidence before taking this step.

When contacted, Cheema said, “The Punjab leadership should have shown some discipline and should have talked with the Kejriwal first,” he said.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 14:51 IST