The Aam Aadmi Party is facing a split in Punjab following party supremo Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to Shiromani Akali Dal leader Vikram Majithia for making ‘unfounded’ drug trade allegations against him.
While two top Punjab AAP leaders, state president Bhagwat Mann and co-president Aman Arora resigned in protest against Kejriwal’s apology, at least 15 of the 20 party legislators favour a move to defect from AAP and form an independent unit in the state with “like-minded” people.
In another fallout of Kejriwal’s written apology on Thursday, AAP’s only alliance partner in the country, the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) broke the alliance over the “betrayal” of Punjabis by the AAP chief.
The LIP has two legislators in Punjab Assembly and had a pre-poll alliance with AAP. LIP president Simranjit Singh Bains said Kejriwal has back-stabbed the people of Punjab with his apology. He said 15 AAP legislators are in favour of breaking away from AAP and they are welcome to join the LIP.
Reacting sharply to Kejriwal’s apology to Majithia, party legislators held meetings in Chandigarh to decide their course of action.
The leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira said almost all AAP legislators are for breaking from AAP and forming an independent unit for the sake of Punjabis. “There was a consensus to form a new unit, but some of the legislators wanted to speak to Kejriwal before taking the decision,” he said, adding that the decision has been deferred for now.
“Is imperative for Punjab leaders to be under Delhi leaders? We want the people to let us know their desire. We will take a decision in the state’s interest,” he said.
Khaira said all MLAs were unanimous that Kejriwal should have taken them into confidence before tendering the apology. “This apology is a big issue. You can’t dilute your stand for the reason that your don’t have the money to fight the defamation case against Majithia. This is not justified. We all are saddened by this,” he said.
Earlier, Mann said he is “resigning as a president of AAP Punjab”. “But my fight against drug mafia and all kind of corruption in Punjab will continue as an ‘Aam Aadmi,” the MP from Sangrur tweeted.