After parting ways with Aam Aadmi Party about one-and-a-half years back, the disgruntled lot assembled under the banner of Swaraj Abhiyan. Of them, Punjab unit activists have now come up with their political outfit ‘Swaraj Party’.Since its formation, done on last Sunday, many doubts are doing rounds. With his bunch of the relevant queries DailyPost Assistant Editor Rajay Deep speaks to Swaraj Party president Prof Manjit Singh, who happens to be the former spokesman of AAP, at length. Here go the excerpts:
What is the difference in Swaraj Abhiyan, Swaraj Lehar and Swaraj Party?
Swaraj Abhiyan was launched by right thinking people after Aam Aadmi Party expelled four of its prominent activists. The word ‘Swaraj’ was derived from Kejriwal’s book with an idea that one has to take the ‘Swaraj’ mission ahead as AAP had dropped it by the time. In Punjab, we renamed it as ‘Swaraj Lehar’ assessing that Abhiyan word would not draw much response. And Swaraj Party is a political party born out of the Swaraj Lehar.
Why did the Swaraj Party come into existence only in Punjab?
It was decided that Swaraj Abhiyan activists would launch the party at the national level but with a condition that it could be done only after we have 100 members in each of at least 100 districts in minimum six states. But here in Punjab, sensing the gravity of situation, we formed the party without waiting for the things taking place in five other states.
This hurry is now gaining controversy. What is your take on that?
The so-called hurried step was taken with an observation that the political temperature was soaring high in the state for the elections approaching and it was the right time to come up with political party for the consolidation of the like minded people. Seeing the delay at the national level was damaging our prospects in Punjab, we took the courage and floated the party last Sunday but the high command was well apprised of the development much before.
The Swaraj Abhiyan spokesman through a statement has disowned the Swaraj Party. What is this?
It is not as the media has interpreted the things. As I said earlier, Swaraj Abhiyan is a movement and Swaraj Party is a political outfit. The party will implement the policies of the Abhiyan as we are a part of that mission only. Once the Swaraj Abhiyan forms a party at the national level, I am hopeful that we will either be affiliated to the national party or be a part of that.
What is the party’s executive structure?
Right now we have a 41-member state body that has, in fact, formed the party. Further, we have nine-member district level committees, which have been constituted in 11 districts. The remaining 11 districts of the state will also have the units soon, I hope, as things are moving on the right track.
What about membership of the party?
At this stage, we have a total of about 8,500 members in Punjab. The drive was launched in January this year. The district committees would go to block level and form the panels there as well. And then, all will focus on expanding the mass base all across.
Will you throw light on the objective and functioning of Swaraj Party?
Swaraj name itself shows the objective-‘Self rule’. This is a party which will provide the platform to ‘aam aadmi’ who is generally at the receiving end. We have decided not to speak on their half, as many of the parties do, but we will be providing them the platform to raise the concern, work and achieve the goal. These people will constitute the very institute and be the part of the system at the same time. We want people should look within rather and depending upon others. In brief, the setup is like a cooperative society, where everyone has to work for all in a collective manner and we are here to train all of them.
What is the status of Swaraj Abhiyan founders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan?
They are not part of Swaraj Party. It was decided and constituted by the state unit of Swaraj Lehar to form the party gelling with same agenda of the Swaraj Abhiyan. There are two aspects of the mission-political and social. Politically, it is the state unit to run the show but on social part, we have the support of the Abhiyan.
Two suspended AAP MPs Dharamvir Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa countered your claim that Swaraj Party was backed by the two. What is your take on that?
They sent us good wishes on the formation of the party and I have things on record. Again in this case, I would like to say that media had misinterpreted the things and the same way the two reacted on news. No doubt they are not the part of Swaraj Party as the two are still AAP MPs, though suspended ones. It will be constitutionally wrong if they become the part of another party, while being MPs from their parent party. Going ahead, I would like to assert that Gandhi will definitely support the politics being done by Swaraj Party as he knows that it is for ‘Swaraj’.
Can we expect that Swaraj Party will be contesting 117 seats of Punjab?
Not at all at this juncture. Tomorrow how much support and base we get we will evaluate and then we can think of that too. Stating such things at this stage would amount what people tend to accuse us ‘the game spoilers’. We want to be with the wishes of ordinary people rather than playing game spoilers.
It is being observed that Swaraj Party will be an obvious threat to AAP?
It’s like when we misplace the coins at home, we immediately doubt the maid servant at home. Why don’t we doubt our own people? It happens because one is insecure. As in our case, they must be finding us major obstacle so they would be trying to hammer us with an objective to throw the opponent out. We have not come with Mission 2017 but for real political change, what people expect at this stage.
People smell the role of Akalis and Cong in the emergence of Swaraj Party. What do you say?
There are already different political parties including various Akali groups then why can’t we be one having come up on our own. It is being said only because we floated the party when the election mood has gone quite up. Had we done the same about a year back since we were asking for, this allegation won’t be there. And I strongly doubt that this is all being spread by AAP.
How do you look at the Aam Aadmi Party now?
First of all, it is not the Aam Aadmi’s Party. It is a campaign, triggered by some people sitting in Delhi and managing it by generating perpetual good will and hope. The real strength of AAP is not within AAP but it is the ‘Dhakkeshahi’ with the help of police and private musclemen of the present ruling elite in the government. People want the government must go at the earliest as they are annoyed with the system and this is the only thing which is favouring AAP.
What is the major grudge you have against AAP?
I want to ask the so-called AAP leaders why Kejriwal and those on the high positions at that time broke the party just after winning and threw us away. Dharamvir Gandhi and I are still not told the reason behind the action. I had simply expressed my viewpoint that too in a democratic set up but as it irked Kejriwal coterie, they went against me. And it not only happened with we two but also with many including Daljit Singh, Jassi Jasraj and many others.
If you are not able to contest 117 seats and say that people want Akalis to go, Congress lacks the current and AAP is of good people. Who is going to form the government then?
There are many a slip between the cup and the lip. There are seven-eight months for the state to go for polls. There will be many changes. If I go by current scenario, Akalsi have rare chances of scoring hat-trick but I would like to mention it strongly that this is all about mathematics and one will have to wait and see the results.
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