Khaira blames past decisions, Bhagwant ‘misuse’ of power


State leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today blamed past decisions of the Delhi leadership and the alleged fear of police among voters for the party’s loss. However, there was a difference of opinion among leaders on the matter.

Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Khaira said among other factors, the unceremonious removal of Gurdaspur leaders Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Gurpreet Ghuggi contributed to the party’s downfall.

Khaira said: “Ghuggi alone got 34,000-plus votes from Batala, one of the Assembly constituencies of Gurdaspur. The party has bagged 24,000 votes in all nine constituencies now.”

He, however, added that Punjab had the culture of voting for the ruling party in the byelections. “Of the 11 bypolls held in Punjab in last 10 years, the party in power has won 10,” he said.

State convener Bhagwant Mann blamed the police “misuse” by the Congress. “People were afraid to attend our meetings for the fear of implication in a case. The decisions on Chhotepur and others are a thing of the past. I don’t see them as factors,” he said.

Bhagwant said the party would introspect about the reasons of the crushing defeat. He, however, said the verdict could not be taken as a precursor of the 2019 General Election.

While congratulating Sunil Jakhar, he said they were hopeful that he would raise issues related to Punjab in Parliament.

Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur wrote on Twitter that the party should accept its defeat and not indulge in blame game.

Party sources said there was shock among the ranks. Though the party did not win a single seat in the region, none had imagined that they would get just about 24,000 votes. In the Assembly elections, the party got over 1.1 lakh votes in all nine segments under the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency.

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