Chandigarh: Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Dharamvira Gandhi on Tuesday launched a "Punjab-centric" front which may contest the 2017 Assembly polls in the state. Many political outfits, including the Democratic Swaraj Party, Apna Punjab, Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party, Swabhiman Party, along with former AAP leader HS Kingra and several academicians and volunteers, joined hands with Gandhi.
A decision on forming a new party and contesting elections will be taken later, said Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, who represents Patiala in the Lok Sabha. For now, such an alternative "can represent the interests and wishes of the people of Punjab," he said. But he also added, "Our endeavour in the 2017 election will be to provide a government in Punjab which will be a government by the Punjabis, of the Punjabis and for the Punjabis".
AAP considers Punjab its strongest base after Delhi, having won four Lok Sabha seats from here with a 25% vote share in the 2014 assembly elections. The party is carrying on a high voltage campaign in Punjab.
This is the second time in two years fissures within the party is coming to the fore, leading to a crisis. Last year, days after it swept the assembly elections in Delhi, a long-drawn and fierce spat with party chief Arvind Kejriwal had ended in the eviction of AAP's founder members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. The two leaders had made a number of accusations against Mr Kejriwal and claimed that they wanted "internal democracy" in AAP.
Dr Gandhi's accusations, too, ran on similar lines. AAP, he said, is neglecting leaders from Punjab and its leaders in Delhi are calling the shots. The party, he added, has failed to deliver the alternative politics it had claimed to drive.
"A large number of individuals and many political parties and activist groups have joined hands to liberate Punjab from the clutches of political parties with high command culture," Dr Gandhi said. Dr Gandhi was suspended by AAP last year for alleged anti-party activities along with its Fatehgarh Sahib lawmaker Harinder Singh Khalsa. Mr Khalsa, however, skipped Tuesday's press meet.