After gaining substantial ground in Punjab politics during the past few months, the Aam Admi Party has suffered a blow as senior party leaders have been accusing each other of corruption in ticket distribution.
Assembly elections are expected in Punjab in early 2017 and AAP has announced the names of 32 candidates in two separate lists. According to sources, 25 of 32 candidates delared so far have been facing opposition within the party. The total number of assembly constituencies in Punjab is 117.
AAP leaders from Punjab and other states have accused Punjab Convener of Aam Admi Party, Succha Singh Chottepur of accepting a cash amount of Rs 2 lakh to grant candidature, in a reported video sting operation.
The troubles of the AAP in Punjab have been multiplied with the removal of AAP’s Punjab Convener Succha Singh Chottepur as the clashes between pro- and anti-Kejriwal supporters have been reported from different places in Punjab and his counter-attack on Delhi coterie has brought to the fore the tussle for power within the party.
This is not the first time that the allegations have been raised by the party leaders against their colleagues. Lakhwinder Kaur, Joint Secretary of women wing of the party has also accused senior AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak, of asking for Rs 50 lakh as a donation to party fund. She had sought a ticket from Phillaur.
Her husband Pavitar Singh is a member of national council of AAP. The couple told that the two leaders categorically told them that the nomination for the party can be given only to those individuals who can pay Rs 2.5 crore in cash. “They said we were being given a discount and we only needed to donate Rs 50 lakh as I am member of the national council and both of us have worked hard for the party in Punjab,” he alleged.
The recent incidents have put the party in a bad light. Chottepur was displeased over the selection of candidates. He was reportedly not allowed to meet Kejriwal over the list of candidates and a section of volunteers in AAP told Business Standard that this is a conspiracy to remove him from party’s convener ship.
Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh has also condemned the dirty tricks resorted to by Aam Aadmi Party leaders from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana against the son of the soil Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who nourished and nurtured the party right from the day of its conception in Punjab.
“The sting operation has clearly been conceived, planned and executed as part of an internal coup engineered by the AAP leaders from outside who want to control Punjab through remote by using their local stooges and inconsequential wannabe leaders”, he said while referring to the so called sting operation against Chhotepur.
A member of party’s political review committee, Manjit Singh Randhawa has registered political party AAP-Punjab and issued statement that AAP Punjab supports Chottepur and rejects all candidates selected by Kejriwal.
The volunteers of AAP in Punjab told that such incidents would demoralize the party cadre. “Till last few days, SAD-BJP and Congress were waning popularity as AAP’s graph was rising. But reports of party people conducting sting operation against their own leader and removed state convener has put the party in totters”, told a volunteer.
Till now, there is no clarity on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s decision on joining AAP. There have been reports that there was a stiff opposition from senior leaders like Bhagwant Mann on Sidhu’s induction into party and Sidhu has changed his plan to join AAP.
Last year Patiala Member Parliament of AAP, Dharamvir Gandhi and Fatehgarh Sahib MP, Harinder Singh Phoolka were also suspended from party for raising their voice against his AAP colleagues wielding power from New Delhi.