Punjab, March 19, 2017: The washout of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab Elections 2017, accentuates the focus on pervading corruption within AAP. ‘Chanda Bandh Satyagraha’ or NoListNoDonation has also been fighting against the restoration of transparency in political funding of AAP since December 24, 2016.
Now, AAP’s defeat too shouts out the agenda of the campaign.
As the lack of transparency gives rise to all the malicious practices that can operate within the administration of the party. Opaque funding has also given the way to the unethical distribution of tickets and biased selection of members into the party.
The honest and deserving volunteers who had watered and nurtured the party with their hard-work have been ignored. Internal democracy has been replaced with high command culture into the party’s governance.
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Recently, a petition has been signed demanding Arvind Kejriwal to remove Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak from the party, holding them responsible for massive defeat in Punjab.
The petition reads:
“With this petition, we are appealing to Arvind Kejriwal, Please listen to the voice of all the volunteers of Punjab and overseas as well and remove Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak from their positions because volunteers have lost faith in them. “
These two were the incharges of the party in Punjab elections. According to the petition filed, they should have resigned themselves taking the responsibilty of AAP’s defeat on their shoulders.
It should be noted that these two people are very close aides of Arvind Kejriwal.
While signing the PETITION, Shikhar Singh from San Franciso (U.S.A.) blames AAP for selling their tickets for Lacs of Rupees. The innocent and honest people have been discarded. Tainted, undeserving and corrupted members were given preference.
Himanshu and Sangram from India also accuse the party for being indulgent into wrong practices while signing the petition.
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Dr. Munish Raizada, Former co-convenor of AAP NRI wing and convener of ‘Chanda Bandh Satyagraha’ raises a valid question. He says,The party is a small club managed essentially by 6-7 individuals. ‘Chanda Chor Gang ka mukhiya’ (ring leader of Chanda Chor Gang) very well knows what all has happened in Punjab and the reasons for their devastating defeat”.
Further, Dr. Munish Raizada adds that if a party cannot keep its funding transparent, how can they talk about removing corruption from the system?
Raizada has been struggling for bringing back the lost morality and transparency in the party through ‘Chanda Bandh Satyagraha’ or NoListNoDonation campaign which aims to seek a pledge from the public not to donate to AAP if it does not display its donor’s list.
The fact that Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak are among the people who are closest to Kejriwal implies that he is not ignorant of the malignant activities that have been taking place behind the name of politics.
For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.
Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.
The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.
In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.
In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.
Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.
Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.
Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.
Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.
That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.
AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.
Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.
When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.
Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.
The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.
Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.
AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.
The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.
The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.
If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)