CHANDIGARH: With just a year left for the general elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab is in complete disarray. While senior leaders of the ruling Congress and the SAD-BJP combine are out campaigning for their candidates for the Shahkot Assembly by-election on May 28, AAP leaders are nowhere to be seen. The party has fielded Dubai-based NRI Rattan Singh from the seat.
The chief of AAP’s Punjab unit, Bhagwant Mann, is yet to campaign for Singh while Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira came just once—on the day Singh filed his nomination papers. There is no solution in sight to the leadership crisis in the state unit either. Mann, MP from Sangrur, and Aman Arora, MLA from Sunam, who had resigned on March 16 from party posts as president and co-president, respectively, are neither discharging their duties nor have they withdrawn their resignations.
While many AAP legislators and leaders have asked the party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal and in-charge of party affairs in Punjab Manish Sisodia to reject the resignation of Mann and Khaira, the central leadership is keeping mum. The party had elevated vice-president Dr Balbir Singh as co-president to run the affairs for the time being. He is now campaigning for Singh in Shahkot.
Even supporters are deserting the party. Around 70 families that were AAP sympathisers have switched their loyalty to Akali Dal in Shahkot. Also, the central leadership is reportedly sidelining Khaira and MLAs Kanwar Sandhu and Najar Singh Manshabia, who had demanded autonomy for the AAP state unit. Several MLAs had revolted against Kejriwal for apologising on the drug menace issue that was the core theme of the party’s campaign in the state elections.
Sources said the AAP leadership in Delhi was now trying to project new faces in the state and was in the process of identifying a few of them. The party may also start a newspaper in the state to project its viewpoint, they said.