Chandigarh: Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Dharamvira Gandhi today launched a "Punjab-centric" front which may contest the 2017 Assembly polls in the state.
Many political outfits, including the Democratic Swaraj Party, the Apna Punjab, the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party, the Swabhiman Party, along with former AAP leader HS Kingra and several academicians and volunteers, joined hands with Gandhi.
The suspended AAP MP from Patiala said the name of the front will be announced in 10-15 days. "There is a need for a regional outfit in Punjab which can guard its interests on the lines of what the AIADMK, TMC, BJD do in their respective states," Gandhi told the media.
Asked if the front will contest the polls, he said that will depend on its strength in a particular Assembly constituency.
Gandhi hit out at the other political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, for "failing to protect the interests of Punjab" over the years.
He acknowledged that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was the only regional party in the state but alleged that they too have "reneged on the interest and the future of Punjab". Gandhi also lashed out at the AAP for "ignoring the real volunteers while distributing poll tickets".
Ruling out his rapprochement with the party, he alleged that there was "no democracy" and it had become a "one man party", hinting at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
"Leaders from Punjab are being sidelined as 'subedars' from Delhi are running the show. Leaders like Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Kanwar Sandhu are being humiliated. A high-command culture is prevailing in the party now," he claimed and hit out at Kejriwal saying, "If my wish prevails, I will throw him out of it."
Gandhi said he had assessed the political situation in the state around three months back and had there been an election then, the AAP could have formed the government in Punjab as it was "far ahead" of the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine. Asked if he will resign from the AAP, he answered in the negative, saying he had neither floated a "political party" nor joined any other. "They can throw me out but I will not resign as MP," he said.
Gandhi said he had told the AAP leadership to either withdraw his suspension or expel him from the party. "But, they are not taking any decision. Maybe they are scared of losing votes," he added.
Asked if his front would approach Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-politician who recently severed ties with the BJP, he said, "If he contacts us, we will think over it."
Gandhi and another MP Harinder Singh Khalsa were suspended from the primary membership of the AAP for "indiscipline and anti-party activities" last year.