The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) on Monday announced Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann would be its new Punjab unit president and AAP legislator and millionaire businessman Aman Arora the co-president.
The announcement had an immediate reaction with state AAP legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira announcing his resignation from the posts of party chief whip and spokesman.
“The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of Aam Aadmi Party today approved roadmap to revamp the Punjab unit of the party and decided to appoint Bhagwant Mann, MP from Sangrur, as state President (convener) and Aman Arora MLA from Sunam as Co-President (Co-Convener).
“Sarabjit Kaur Manuke MLA from Jagraon has been appointed Deputy Leader of the Legislature party in Vidhan Sabha,” an AAP spokesman said in Chandigarh.
The PAC, headed by AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, approved the new appointments after marathon meeting with AAP legislators, zone in-charges and heads of frontal organisations of its Punjab unit.
“The national leadership held one to one meetings and collective talk with MLAs and other office bearers before taking final decisions in the PAC,” the spokesman added.
“In another significant decision, the party has decided to constitute separate PAC for Punjab so that the state unit may take its independent decisions of political affairs Pertaining to state,” the spokesman said.
Several party leaders and NRI supporters of AAP had conveyed to the AAP national leadership that Mann should not be made the state unit head.
The main complaint against Mann, a comedian-turned-politician, was about his drinking habit and coming drunk to public functions.
Mann, otherwise, is a popular celebrity in Punjab, especially in the rural areas. He had contested against Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal friom the Jalalabad assembly seat in recent assembly polls but lost.
“Opinion was sought from the state leaders on how to move forward after assembly elections in Punjab. The aim of the exercise was to make state unit more vibrant and accountable,” the spokesman said regarding Mann’s appointment.
The PAC has also decided to appoint four Vice Presidents – two to be from Malwa region and one each from Doaba and Majha region, the spokesman said.
“Bhagwant Mann, in his capacity as state convener would be responsible for all party affairs and Aman Arora would specially work to build structure of the party in state. The party would take holistic approach towards all issues to refurbish the party base in Punjab,” he added.
The AAP, which at one stage was expected to put an impressive show in Punjab polls, ended up with only 20 seats in the 117-member assembly in the February 4 elections. The spokesman said that AAP would launch a fresh offensive against the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government, taking it on various promises it had made with the people during elections.
“The PAC has directed the state unit to go back to people and make the Congress government accountable on every promise,” he added.
Sukhpal Khaira resigns as cheif whip
AAP’s chief whip Sukhpal Khaira has resigned from his position to protest Mann’s selection, party sources said. After Kejriwal told MLAs that Mann was the most popular choice, Khaira stood up, called the selection process farcical and announced his resignation, sources said.
“Friends, to set at rest different kind of rumors doing the round in media, I confirm that I have asked Mr. Kejriwal to relieve me from the posts of Chief Whip and the Spokesperson of the party with immediate effect.
“I requested that these positions be given to leaders who are more deserving than me in the party. I am very happy to serve party as an ordinary volunteer and elected representative of the people,” Khaira said in a statement here.
However, Kejriwal has refused to accept his resignation saying he vetoes against it. Khaira meanwhile said he would issue a statement later on his course of action