Ahead of a possible shake-up of the AAP in Punjab, its MLA, Sukhpal Khaira, today sought a “free hand” to the state unit chief in restructuring and fixing its own agenda to perform better in the upcoming polls. AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal has called a meeting of party MLAs at his residence in New Delhi on May 8 to hold a discussion on restructuring the state unit after its loss in the recent Punjab Assembly elections. The Kejriwal-led party had won 20 out of 117 seats in the Punjab Assembly polls. The Congress had registered a thumping win securing 77 seats, while SAD-BJP managed to win 18 seats.
“I want the party leadership in Delhi to give a free hand to whomsoever they appoint as the chief of the state unit,” Khaira, who is the chief whip of the party in Punjab, said. Noting that the AAP is facing “challenging times”, Khaira demanded “full authority” for the new chief of the state unit in the organisational structure. “Besides, freedom should also be given to fix agenda or take a decision on burning issues of the state. Then, AAP can perform very well in upcoming polls like Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, municipal corporation elections and panchayat elections in the state,” he said.
“Punjabis very well know what their agenda or issues are,” he said. Notably, during the assembly polls, other political parties had accused AAP in Punjab of being run by outsiders. Last month, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann had slammed the party leadership, saying they behaved like “a mohalla cricket team” and not naming a chief ministerial candidate for the state polls cost them heavy. Khaira, the MLA from Bhulath, said convener of Punjab unit Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi did not have a working committee in the state.
“Can any party’s state unit chief work without a working committee,” he asked, adding, “Rather than zonal level, district and block-level units of the AAP can be formed for the betterment of the party.” Khaira said the party leadership in Delhi should take wider view in selecting who would be AAP’s Punjab unit chief by seeking opinion from the volunteers also. “Had the party distributed tickets for the assembly polls after taking views of volunteers, there would not have been any trouble over ticket distribution,” he said.
Asked whether he wanted to become the chief of the party’s state unit, Khaira, who had left the Congress to join the AAP, said if the party entrusts him with the task he will not “run away”. On Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, Khaira said the party should contest all polls. The Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after sitting MP and veteran bollywood actor Vinod Khanna died on April 27.