AAP struggles to keep party united in Punjab, rejects state chief Bhagwant Mann, co-president Aman Arora's resignations

Chandigarh: As the crisis-ridden Aam Aadmi Party's Punjab unit tries to keep its flock together, it rejected the resignations of state president and a co-president after a party meeting on Saturday.

The state unit also announced two events in the coming days, which may help it counter a recent show of strength by the rebel faction led by Sukhbir Singh Cheema. In March, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and Sunam MLA Aman Arora had resigned as the state unit's president and co-president, respectively, to protest against party chief Arvind Kejriwal's decision to apologise to an Akali leader.

 AAP struggles to keep party united in Punjab, rejects state chief Bhagwant Mann, co-president Aman Aroras resignations

File image of Bhagwant Mann. News18

State unit co-president Balbir Singh told reporters in Chandigarh that the office bearers have now requested Mann and Arora to continue to lead the AAP in Punjab.

"Bhagwant Mann was the state president of the party and he will remain so. We have sent our recommendations to the national leadership and we are sure that they will agree with what we have decided today," he said.

The two leaders had submitted their resignations from the posts after Kejriwal apologised to SAD leader Bikram Majithia for alleging that he was involved in the drug trade.

Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who is the party's state affairs in-charge, will address an event in Jalandhar on 13 August.

On 15 August, another party conference will be held at Issru, in which MP Bhagwant Mann and party MLAs will take part.

The current crisis in the Punjab unit erupted after the national leadership replaced Bolath MLA Sukhbir Khaira as Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, naming Harpal Singh Cheema in his place.

Seven other MLAs, out of the 20 the party has in Punjab, then openly come out in Khaira's support, holding a convention in Bathinda on Thursday.

After Saturday's meeting, Cheema dismissed the “ultimatum” served by rebel group MLAs who have asked the party to review its decision to replace Khaira.

But he said the party was in touch with Khaira and trying to persuade him to fall in line.

"We are persuading the MLAs to desist from indulging in anti-party activity," he said.

When asked if such “anti-party activity” will weaken the AAP, Cheema replied, "After this crisis, the party will emerge stronger, you will see". "The party is united," he told reporters. He said the recent developments had not shaken the faith of people in AAP's Punjab unit.

The AAP's state leadership has also decided to invite Arvind Kejriwal to hold a rally in Punjab in October, Balbir Singh said. At that rally, Kejriwal, Sisodia and Mann will announce the AAP's plans for the 2019 general election, he said.

Meanwhile, the state's unit women's wing demanded that Khaira should apologise for the manner in which two women MLAs, Rupinder Kaur Ruby and Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, were "targeted" by his supporters on social media.

Women wing's leader Baljinder Kaur alleged that MLAs were abused for not attending the rebels' Bathinda convention

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Updated Date: Aug 04, 2018 23:10:30 IST