- Party may show the door to Sucha Singh Chhotepur, sources say
- He allegedly accepted cash for assembly ticket from a party worker
- AAP Punjab unit’s top leaders wrote to Arvind Kejriwal seeking action
Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party could today sack its Punjab unit convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who has been accused of taking bribe for assigning constituencies to party candidates for the assembly elections to be held early next year.
21 AAP leaders from Punjab, including members of Parliament Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh, have written a letter to party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking him to immediately sack Mr Chhotepur based on “our party’s principles of zero tolerance towards corruption.”
They cite as proof against the Punjab leader a sting operation in which the 65-year-old Mr Chhotepur is allegedly seen accepting cash from a party worker. AAP sources said the party leaders have enclosed a video clip with their letter to Mr Kejriwal; the sting has not been made public.
Mr Kejriwal has called a meeting of top party leaders in Delhi today to discuss Mr Chhotepur’s fate. “There will be action against Chhotepur,” predicted AAP spokesperson in Punjab Himmat Singh Shergill.
Mr Chhotepur has denied the allegations, calling it a conspiracy to discredit him. “This is a conspiracy hatched against me by some of my own partymen… I will disclose everything on Friday,” he said.
Punjab’s big parties, the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal have mocked challenger AAP, which is attempting to make inroads in the state with corruption as a major election plank.
“The sting operation has clearly been conceived, planned and executed as part of an internal coup engineered by AAP leaders from outside who want to control Punjab through remote by using their local stooges and inconsequential wannabe leaders,” said Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, who has described Mr Chhotepur as an “honourable and respectful” man with an unblemished career.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Akali Dal alleged, “All those who have been thrown out by different parties have joined them. How do you expect such people to do good for Punjab? Go and see how traders are struggling in Delhi.”
Mr Chhotepur has been part of both the Akali Dal and the Congress in Punjab, before he teamed up with Mr Kejriwal, who asked him to build the party in the state. He had fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as an AAP candidate from Gurdaspur, losing to the BJP’s Vinod Khanna.
Mr Kejriwal has since fallen out with Mr Chhotepur, mainly over selection of candidates for the Punjab elections, sources said. The party has announced two lists of candidates and Mr Chhotepur was missing on both occasions.