Chandigarh, April 30: H S Phoolka has created tremors with his video ‘appealing’ to the ticket seekers not to count on him and approach state party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur instead thereby making his disgust with the present state of affairs in the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab public. After the two party MPs Dr Dharam Vira and Harinder Singh Khalsa were suspended for joining the dissidents who are now out of the party, Phoolka’s outburst is being seen as a major development that has the potential to rock the party in the run up to the February 2017 elections now only a few months away. The development is a warning signal.
“Phoolka is our most respected leader. He had earlier himself announced that he would prefer to focus on the cases against Jagdish Tytler and others relating to November 1984 anti-Sikh violence. There no problem at any level in his case”, asserted party’s national organizational secretary Durgesh Pathak.
It may be mentioned that Phoolka has been a very well-known face in Punjab because of his association with November 1984 cases and working to mobilise people at every level. He has been cycling to different places for this purpose to be one with the Aam Aadmi.
AAP is faced with the problem of too many ambitious but not so Aam Aadmis joining the party in view of the perceived wave against both the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress, in that order. People like Phoolka might be feeling sidelined. He is among those leaders who have been with AAP in Punjab from day one.
AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal might be exaggerating when he claimed that the party was likely to win more than 100 of the 117 seats in the state. it may be recalled that the Akali Dal-BJP combine had won 93 seats in 1997 when the Congress was at its rock bottom despite claiming to have restored peace in the state after more than a decade of turbulence that claimed about 50,000 lives.
AAP might have shortlisted candidates for each seat but there is problem of too many, more than plenty. The situation would become clear only after the party announces its candidates. It is proposed to complete this exercise within the next two or three months. It would be better as the fall out, if any due to these over-ambitious people, can be taken care of in the run up to the election.
Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has taken advantage of such a situation in the Congress in 2012 Assembly election when he took good care of the Congress dissidents. Rest of the damage was done by the over-confident party leaders themselves.
The problem with Punjab is that the situation can suddenly become unpredictable as such is the nature of the political discourse here where normal parameters don’t apply. AAP would have to be cautious in its approach despite the situation that apparently seems to be highly favourable.
Sukhbir is not the type of leaders who give up easily and he will fight back as he has to. There is no need to conduct a survey to know as to what has gone wrong. Talk to any common person right from a village on the border in Amritsar district to some remote corner in Mansa district and one would get the same perception of the situation. The system of Halqa incharge introduced by the Akali Dal has perhaps done more damage than any other issue which otherwise are related to this system.
AAP leadership is presently engaged in Punjab Dialogue which in essence is an exercise to connect with the people as there is nothing much that is not known. Parkash Singh Badal can easily be described as the best dream seller in the earlier elections. However, although it is Badal who has been projected as the leader once again, that might not matter much. He was never known as a good administrator but people still trusted him. He can now do little to bring about qualitative change in the situation. It is Sukhbir who has to confront AAP.
Phoolka’s outburst should be taken as a warning signal by AAP leadership, how strong might be the anti-incumbency that is favouring this party at the moment.