Chandigarh, Aug 1 (IANS) The Punjab unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) continued to be in a flux on Wednesday ahead of a convention by ousted leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira in Bathinda town on Thursday.
While the Khaira camp said that they were getting a good response from party legislators and workers, those owing allegiance to the AAP central leadership dubbed the event as an “anti-party” activity.
Senior AAP leader and newly appointed leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema termed the alleged ‘AAP Convention’ as an “event sponsored by SAD-BJP-RSS and Bains brothers”.
“It has nothing to do with Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and others. The convention is an anti-Dalit event,” Cheema said in a statement. “The state as well as the national leadership would have welcomed the convention if it was scheduled to raise the voice of Dalits, farmers, unemployed and against mafia of every kind,” he said.
Cheema maintained that Bains bothers, Simarjit Singh and Balwinder Singh of AAP ally Lok Insaf Party (LIP), are “experts in playing politics of opportunity and trying to break AAP”.
Cheema admitted that a few leaders of AAP have come under the influence of Bains and trying to kill their own party.
Warning party leaders and workers to stay away from the convention, he said that verdict of the people of Punjab should be respected.
With its Punjab unit facing a crisis, the AAP on Tuesday blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bains brothers for trying to split the party.
The AAP central leadership had picked up Dalit leader Harpal Singh Cheema as leader of the Opposition after the sudden removal of Khaira from the post.
Khaira was removed as the LoP last week through a tweet from AAP national leader and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia.
Since then, Khaira has remained defiant over his removal and said preparations for a party convention in Bathinda, slated for Thursday, were in full swing.
“By terming our August 2 meet as anti-party activity, Sisodia has vindicated our charge of dictatorial attitude, if we Pbi’ (Punjabis) can’t hold a simple meeting on our soil, then how will we safeguard the interests of Pb? The AAP meet at Bathinda will settle the issue once and for all,” a defiant Khaira tweeted on Tuesday.
“I urge all the brave Punjabis to attend our AAP convention at Bathinda on August 2 at Woods Resort, Dabbwali Road to espouse the cause of our state,” Khaira added.
Khaira, who paraded eight legislators in his support here last week, went to Delhi to meet Sisodia and object to his removal, but the demand was rejected by the AAP central leadership.
The AAP emerged as the main opposition in Punjab in assembly election results in March last year, winning 20 seats in the 117-member assembly. This was the party’s first outing in the Assembly polls and it was able to relegate the formidable Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, which ruled Punjab for 10 years (2007-2017) to the third position.