Two days after the Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab chief resigned from his post, 10 party members along with state unit leaders, met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in Delhi on Sunday, 18 March, to smoothen ruffled feathers within the party.
The meeting comes after Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann on Friday, 16 March, resigned as the Aam Aadmi Party's Punjab chief, a day after party supremo Arvind Kejriwal's apology to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia drew flak from state unit leaders.
Mann announced his decision to resign on Twitter.
Following this, the vice president of the AAP Punjab unit, Aman Arora, also resigned from his post.
At Sunday’s meeting, the chief minister is said to have to have given an explanation behind his apology to Majithia.
According to party sources, the Punjab AAP MLAs present in the meeting are believed to have been convinced with Kejriwal's explanation.
However, only half of the dissenting party MLAs were present in the meeting, with the remaining legislators still miffed with the party leadership.
"Anyhow, it rules out any split in the party in Punjab, as of now. Forming a separate group or splitting the party would require the consent of two-third of the 20 AAP MLAs," the sources said.
Among the prominent absentees were Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Bhagwant Mann, AAP MP from Sangrur.
There have been different demands by the AAP MLAs and party leaders from Punjab after Kejriwal's apology letter went public, ranging from giving them more autonomy to forming a different group in protest.
Aman Arora, AAP MLA from Suna, who had attended the meeting said there was some "miscommunication”.
The reason he (Kejriwal) had apologised is because he has several cases against him in many parts of the country. And some of them are in the fast track courts.Aman Arora, AAP MLA
Arora said the AAP MLAs present in the meeting were convinced with the explanation given by Kejriwal as the legal battle was draining him and the party in terms of resources.
This, he said, was also consuming the party supremo's time which could be used for focusing on governance in Delhi.
Kejriwal’s Letter of Apology
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had on Thursday, 15 March, tendered an apology to former Punjab minister Majithia for levelling charges of involvement in drugs trade against him.
In his apology, Kejriwal had said he had learnt that his allegations were “unfounded”.
Kejriwal had apologised to Majithia through a formal letter. Majithia had filed a defamation case against the AAP chief and others after the latter made the allegation while campaigning ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections.
The party has accumulated over 20 defamation cases till date, according to a NDTV report.
"I hereby withdraw all my statements and allegations made against you and apologise for the same", Kejriwal said in the letter, adding that he has now learnt that the allegations were "unfounded" and the damage caused to Majithia's esteem and the loss caused to him was regretted.
SAD Leaders Lash Out, Say Kejriwal’s Apology Exposes ‘Cheap Politics’
SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal lashed out at Kejriwal on Friday, 16 March, accusing him of cheap politics.
This exposes cheap politics by the AAP. They spread false propaganda. They built their entire election campaign in Punjab on a lie. It’s good that he has accepted his lies.Harsimrat Kaur Badal
Former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said he is happy that those fighting for truth have won.
AAP Leaders Not Consulted?
Soon after Kejriwal’s apology, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP leader and the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, tweeted that the Delhi chief minister did not consult other party members.
Another AAP leader from Punjab condemned Kejriwal’s apology.
Kumar Vishwas took a jibe at Kejriwal, and accused him of not standing by his words.
Kejriwal to Apologise to Jaitley?
Quoting sources, NDTV reported that Kejriwal is planning to apologise to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, too, for alleging his involvement in corrupt practices during Jaitley’s tenure as the head of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
In August 2016, Kejriwal had also apologised to a BJP leader from Haryana, Avtar Singh Bhadana, for calling him “corrupt” back in 2014, added NDTV.
(With inputs from ANI, NDTV, IANS)