AAP lands into crisis in Punjab as Chhotepur is sacked

sucha-singh-chhotepur.jpg aap

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, August 26:  Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Punjab convener of the Aam Aadmi Party, has been sacked plunging the party into crisis. This is the party on which the people in the state have staked all their hopes. AAP, it seems, survives on fresh blood in the state. His unceremonious removal has also raised some serious issues in Sikh religio-political domain.

Interestingly, the announcement to this effect was made by Bhagwant Mann in Delhi after meeting of the Political affairs of the party. A committee has been set up headed by MLA Jarnail Singh to probe corruption charges against Chhotepur. This committee otherwise has no relevance as Chhotepur has not denied accepting money. Mann cited  some NRI too having given money to Chhotepur.

He has been removed as the state convener. Punjab Congress party chief Capt Amarinder Singh has already kept his party’s doors open for him.

Hours before his imminent ouster, Chhotepur launched full blast attack on AAP national convener and Chief Minister of semi-state Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, accusing him of callousness towards Sikh religio-political sensitivities. AAP is bereft of any pronounced ideology. He questioned the credentials of AAP being a clean and transparent party while offering himself for a CBI probe, not just into the latest allegation against him but to investigate his entire political  career spanning 40 years.

More damaging for AAP are the issues that he raised in the Panthic domain. The denigration of the Sikh religio-political institutions might have touched the nadir during the last ten years but that gives no licence to anybody to violate the Sikh sensitivities, consciously or unconsciously. Chhotepur has made a sensational revelation that directly concerns the Sikh religio-political domain. Going by his assertion, the ex-communication of a Sikh from Akal Takht means nothing to Kejriwal. This is the worst punishment for a Sikh and this aspect should have been known to Kejriwal.

Kejriwal should clarify this issue.

Chhotepur narrated the incident at a news conference on Friday afternoon. This related to  the goof up during the release of party’s much hyped youth manifesto by Kejriwal at Amritsar. Kejriwal  subsequently had to go to the Golden Temple and clean utensils as part of penance for two blunders committed by the party.

The manifesto carried the picture of the Golden Temple with AAP symbol broom on it. The send blunder was its comparison with Guru Granth Sahib. Chhotepur, when questioned by newsmen later, had made it clear that the manifesto was not shown to him. The state convener had been kept in the dark even in the matter of preparation of the manifesto. When Kejriwal confronted him on this issue, Chhotepur hit back saying how could he own up the blunder that could cost him even ex-communication from the Sikh religion by Akal Takht. The Akal Takht can’t haul up non-Sikhs. As per Chhotepur, Kejriwal retorted, “Then what. What would have happened in case you had been ex-communicated”? Chhotepur was shocked at Kejriwal’s lack of sensitivities to the Sikh value system.

Thus it was not just the release of manifesto but also the subsequent developments that are significant. AAP in Punjab is under attack for being controlled by the outsiders.

AAP leadership tried to put Chhotepur in the dock with the so-called sting operation in which he is stated to  have accepted Rs 2 lakh from a party activist. He hit back saying, “Yes. We have been getting donation from the people to run the party. I handed over more than Rs 20 lakh to the party during the Delhi Assembly elections. How come that none asked me its source at that time”? However, he alleged he has been framed in this case.

“Ours is a party without any state committee or a treasurer. I am the convener and the only office bearer. The party has been functioning without any state committee”, he said.

Throwing a challenge to AAP leadership, he offered to undergo CBI probe, not just into the allegation of accepting Rs 2 lakh but of his entire political career spanning about 40 years. It may be mentioned that his political career started when he was elected unopposed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee general house in 1979 elections. He was minister in the Surjit Singh Barnala government.

He made two other serious allegations. The first one is about the selection of candidates for the Assembly elections. The party has released two lists so far. According to him, some people offered even upto Rs 2 crore for getting the ticket to the people who matter saying he had no role in it. In Punjab,  this is believable. It is the second charge that is more serious. He alleged that the party deliberately selected several weak candidates in the two lists to facilitate victory of the Akali Dal.

AAP has been undergoing churning all along since its inception. The first to be axed were Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav at the national level. This was followed by suspension of two of out of four MPs Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa. There has been no follow-up action all these months after their suspension.

Most of the people who had come to be associated with this party in Punjab during the earlier stage are no more with it and this include some of the candidates during the Lok Sabha election. Chhotepur is the latest casualty.

The situation in Punjab demands that Kejriwal should himself come out with policy statement  rather than using proxies.


Jagtar Singh


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