Chandigarh, October 4: The Aam Aadmi Party is learnt to be negotiating with a Sikh leaders with Panthic credentials to neutralise the attack of the party being anti-Sikh with non-Punjabis controlling the affairs.
According to highly placed sources, AAP leaders including Durgesh Pathak, Sanjay Singh and MLA Jarnail Singh had long interaction with this leaders a few days back. Jarnail Singh is also co-coordinator in Punjab. The party has come under attack allegedly for being anti-Sikh with derogatory comments being attributed to some of these outside leaders.
It may be mentioned that AAP had been in touch with several “Panthic” leaders including United Akali Dal chief Mohkam Singh. However, going by the decision of the United Akali Dal to joining hands with Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, the negotiations did not reach the logical conclusion. AAP had been talking to at least four such leaders and factions. It may be mentioned that Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal has been attacking AAP for hobnobbing with the militants and he had particularly mentioned the name of Mohkam Singh.
Interesting part is that the framework of all these ‘Panthic’ leaders was the same. They wanted some of their candidates to be co-opted and in turn sought AAP support in the next general house elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. However, with the Supreme Court passing orders to revive the general House elected in 2011, the hope of early election has been belied. This has given a new twist to the politics of these leaders vis-à-vis AAP. The target of all the non-Shiromani Akali Dal Akali factions is the SGPC as it is considered to be the gateway to state power.
The leader who has now been approached has no such interests and he has only asked for accommodation of some of his candidates. However, the party has already taken decision about two of these seats. There might be some other adjustment in case the deal is finalised.
What is worrying AAP leaders is the unexpected response that its former state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur is receiving from the people. Even Chhotepur never had faintest of the idea of the people that would come forward in his support in case he floated a new party. AAP rebel MP Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi is likely to join hands with Apna Punjab Party of Chhotepur. This has turned the contest four cornered. It is AAP that is going to be directly affected. DR Gandhi is talking of issues while AAP is laying emphasis on candidates.
With repeated setbacks beginning with the blunders during release of the youth manifesto, AAP has been going from one crisis to another, Chhotepur splitting the party being the latest. There have been voices of dissent following the release of two lists of candidates and now the party is being over cautious.
However, the criteria that is learnt to have been adopted to give tickets to Hindus in at least three constituencies per Lok Sabha seat has now gone down well with certain sections. The issue is not that of quota. However, it is three seats per Lok Sabha constituency that is being questioned. All the big cities and mandi towns are Hindu dominated. The party would have to be flexible. Hindu candidates can easily be adjusted in urban and semi-urban seats without sticking to this criterion.
At the grassroots, the situation is undergoing qualitative change. The impact of Punjab being seen as the theatre of war is being assessed in the context of evacuation of villages having been ordered within 10 km border belt in the entire state. This decision has been questioned not only by the leaders in opposition but also the residents themselves. Most of the people in the border villages in Amritsar and Tarn Taran refused to move out as it is simply not possible to lock the houses. Moreover, people in these villages have been through the 1965, 1971 and the Kargil wars and they are not scared. It is the government announcement to evacuate the villages within no time that initially caused panic. The situation is now returning to normal. People have protested to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for this unnecessary harassment during his tour of these villages.
AAP had started with the claim of winning 100 seats about a year back and there is no change in that figure. Its new state convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi Waraich too is talking of 100 seats. One would have expected the number to up after a year. The total number of seats in Punjab is 117.