Talwandi Sabo: It was ironic to observe the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders accusing their own Central leadership for their defeat in the recently-held Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls from the political stage on Thursday during the Baisakhi festival.
AAP’s chief whip in Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira was the most vocal leader, followed by the party’s leader in the Vidhan Sabha H S Phoolka.
Known as a firebrand leader, Khaira appealed to the Central leadership to feel the pulse of Punjab and let the state unit take the decisions, with a caution that ‘otherwise the whole system will collapse.’
“We could win the polls as the mood of masses was in our favour but some autocratic decisions of the high command played negative role and we missed the bus,” claimed Khaira, adding, “We tried our best to convince the leadership at Delhi but no one was ready to listen to us and finally we lost the battle.”
“Initially, there was a system in the party to nominate the candidate. Internal democratic set up that was the beauty of the party got damaged and without even sensing the masses’ desires, some candidates were imposed and result is in front of all of us,” he said.
Speaking further, Bholath MLA and the party’s chief whip said, “We could form the government had the database been maintained. It was all our fault that we ignored the volunteers’ sentiments and being vigilant enough the voters elected only 28 of the total 117 who they find worth sitting in Vidhan Sabha to raise their voice.”
“No doubt, leaders from Delhi had come with an intent to make the party win in Punjab but the model they brought along was totally wrong. It was not Delhi, where people saw one face and polled in the favour of all contesting on the party’s symbol. Here people evaluate each and every candidate. Moreover, the party committed a blunder of not giving a face in Punjab where as the Congress and SAD-BJP had declared their chief ministerial candidates well in advance. All this went against us,” said Khaira.
“I am speaking the truth as it is the need of the hour. We are not the single party in opposition this time as the SAD-BJP alliance is also there on the opposition benches. They had got 30 per cent of the total polled votes, so we can’t take them lightly. If we don’t stop pleasing and pleading the central leadership of the party even now, we are sure to suffer another major shock in the days ahead. Speaking truth is necessary otherwise they won’t understand the real picture of Punjab,” Khaira appealed to all to take the stand for their rights.
During his speech, he also lashed out at Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for appointing a battery of advisers and OSDs, with also condemning the proposed move of appointing 20 MLAs as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries.
Later, the Leader of Opposition H S Phoolka also backed Khaira for his ‘hard-hitting’ words against the Central leadership.
AAP’s legislative party leader H S Phoolka and Chief Whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira highlight the shortcomings of their party from the stage
Supporting Khaira’s demand of ‘introspection,’ Phoolka said, “I had also expressed my reservation on the ticket distribution but no one was ready to listen to the point at that time. In fact, I had to face the music for showing the mirror. On different occasions, my photo was removed from the party banners and I was also kept out of various party committees,” he said.
Interestingly, the party’s campaign committee in-charge Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, who has recently lost Vidhan Sabha polls against Sukhbir Singh Badal from Jalalabad, was absent on the occasion.
Party’s state convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, who has also lost Vidhan Sabha polls from Batala, found himself in a piquant situation when his colleagues were lashing out at the Delhi leadership of the party. Maintaining restrain, Ghuggi advised the critics to opt for party’s internal forum to air their grievances and discuss the issues rather than exploiting the rally stage.
Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur thanked all for attending the conference with a mention that it was not her victory but of each and every one who voted and supported her.