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Stalemate continues in AAP as only 10 Punjab MLAs attend meeting with Kejriwal

In the meeting that lasted almost three hours, Kejriwal informed them about the circumstances that led him to express regret to the Akali leader for his allegations.

punjab Updated: Mar 19, 2018 10:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Arvind Kejriwal,Kejriwal apology,AAP Punjab
Punjab AAP MLAs speak to the media after a meeting with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

Chandigarh: The political crisis in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, triggered by its national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to SAD leader Bikram Majithia in a defamation case, continued on Sunday, with half the party MLAs staying away from a meeting held by him.

Of the 20 party MLAs, only 10 MLAs turned up for the meeting held at Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s residence and endorsed Kejriwal’s decision to tender an unqualified apology to Majithia for the drug charges levelled against him in the run-up to the state assembly polls last year.

Those who attended the meeting included Kultar Singh Sandhwan, Aman Arora, Sarvjit Kaur Manuke, Amarjit Singh Sandoa, Baljinder Kaur, Rupinder Kaur Ruby, Jaikishan Singh Rori, Harpal Singh Cheema, Budh Ram and Manjit Singh, besides five zonal in-charge of the party in the state. In the meeting that lasted almost three hours, Kejriwal informed them about the circumstances that led him to express regret to the Akali leader for his allegations.

“The MLAs conveyed their resentment at not being consulted or informed, but he told us how he was being bogged down by 33 defamation cases filed against him in 21 courts across the country and was unable to work for the people,” said Suman MLA Aman Arora after the meeting.

Manuke, MLA from Jagraon, said the MLAs were satisfied with the party chief’s raison d’être behind the apology. “The central leaders were requested to reject the resignations of (party’s Punjab unit president) Bhagwant Mann and (his deputy) Aman Arora as the party needs them, which they agreed to,” she said. Mann and Arora quit their party posts on Friday in protest.

There was no end to the impasse with some MLAs, including leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Sukhpal Khaira and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu, who were enraged over the apology, did not attend the meeting. Others who kept away from the meeting included Gurmeet Singh Meet, Pirmal Singh Dhaula,HS Phoolka, Baldev Singh and Nazar Singh Manshahia. Phoolka said he did not go as he was “on leave” and had not attended any party meeting in the past six months.

After Majithia went public on the AAP chief’s apology to him, the party’s central leadership called the MLAs to Delhi on Sunday to explain the position. However, a decision was taken in a meeting held by 18 MLAs in Chandigarh on Friday that they would not go to Delhi for the meeting. They asked the central leaders to come to Chandigarh instead.

One MLA, who attended the Delhi meeting, claimed that Khaira talked to Punjab affairs in-charge Sisodia, giving the reasons for not being able to show up. However, Khaira stuck to his guns. “I talked to no one. Why should I? We had decided not to attend the meeting in Delhi. I went by the decision. You should ask those who went back on their word and are being managed through remote control by the central leadership,” said, dismissing his party colleague’s claim. On his next step, Khaira said he would hold a meeting of party MLAs for the budget session on Monday. “I have invited all of them,” he said.

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First Published: Mar 18, 2018 23:15 IST