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Khalsa, Gandhi in no mood to patch up with AAP leadership

Suspended from party 3 years ago: Khalsa says the AAP he joined does not exist today; Gandhi says party will have to shun authoritarian tendencies for him to consider such a possibility.

punjab Updated: May 31, 2018 11:21 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Harinder Singh Khalsa and Dharamvira Gandhi
Harinder Singh Khalsa and Dharamvira Gandhi

In a setback to those trying to reunite the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, suspended party MPs, Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa, seem to be in no mood to patch up with the party leadership.

Both Gandhi and Khalsa, who were suspended from the primary membership of the AAP for alleged “indiscipline and anti-party activities” about three years ago, have ruled out the possibility of returning to the party fold in the present circumstances.

While Gandhi, MP from Patiala, said he would consider such a possibility only if the central leadership of the party gives up its authoritarian tendencies, buries the high command culture and sticks to its promise of autonomy, Khalsa, MP from Fatehgarh Sahib, said the party he had joined ceased to exist a long time ago.

“There is no such thing as the AAP today. The party which was floated or propagated in 2014 is not there,” said Khalsa, rejecting the move outright.

Their comments are significant in view of reports that a section of AAP leaders strongly favours revocation of suspension of Gandhi and Khalsa and reaching out to others who had left the party or are dissatisfied to try and make up lost ground in the state.

The AAP had bagged four – the only ones it won across the country – of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in the 2014 elections, but failed to live up to expectations in the state assembly polls last year. The infighting-ridden state unit has suffered setback after setback since, suffering embarrassing defeats in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha byelection and municipal polls.

Khalsa, a former diplomat, said that he felt cheated because the AAP had strayed from its declared path, ignoring internal democracy, the issue of the Lokpal, the fight against corruption and other similar ideals that attracted people.

“I will contest the 2019 election. During the budget session of Lok Sabha, (Punjab Congress president Sunil) Jakhar asked me about my plans. I told him, “If I join your party, the raison d'être of my being in politics stands defeated. I am still to decide whether I will contest from any party or as an Independent candidate,” he said. Khalsa was the SAD MP from Bathinda from 1996 to 1998.

Gandhi said he was open to talking to like-minded people. “There are nine months to go for Parliamentary elections and anything can happen. My real fight is against the SAD,” he said. The Patiala MP, who launched ‘Punjab Manch’, a political action group, in March this year, said he would give it the shape of a regional political outfit before parliamentary elections. The AAP has decided to contest all the Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.