Arvind Kejriwal Apology Triggers Resignations, Heartburn And Barbs

Arvind Kejriwal's has apologised to former Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia, who he had repeatedly called "Punjab's drug lord" during campaigning for last year's assembly election.

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Arvind Kejriwal's apology has also provoked AAP's ally, Lok Insaaf Party, to break its alliance.


NEW DELHI: 

Highlights

  1. With Kejriwal apology to ex-Punjab minister, AAP launched atonement spree
  2. Party and leaders are embroiled in dozens of defamation suits
  3. But move triggers backlash within, key leaders resign from posts
Arvind Kejriwal's desperate attempt to wriggle out of his legal troubles with an apology to Akali Dal's Bikram Singh Majithia appears to be hurtling his Aam Aadmi Party towards a huge crisis in Punjab. Aman Arora, a senior AAP leader in Punjab, on Friday tweeted his resignation from the party post to protest the Delhi Chief Minister's retraction.

Mr Arora, co-president of AAP's Punjab unit, said he was quitting from the leadership role "due to painful turn of events since yesterday".

Bhagwant Mann, who was appointed AAP's Punjab chief less than a year ago, had announced his resignation from the top post just hours earlier. "I'm resigning as a president of AAP Punjab," Mr Mann tweeted.

"But my fight against drug mafia and all kind of corruption in Punjab will continue as an "Aam Aadmi", Mr Mann, one of the three leaders to have been elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2014 elections said.

A few hours later, Lok Insaaf Party which has been in alliance with AAP in Punjab, also dumped Arvind Kejriwal's party. "We have announced to break our alliance with the AAP. We cannot be associated with a party whose main leader meekly surrendered by tendering apology to former minister Bikram Singh Majithia," Simarjeet Singh Bains said.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, was the first to snub his party boss. "We're appalled and stunned," he had said.

Mr Kejriwal's offer of regret to former Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia, who he had repeatedly called Punjab's drug lord during campaigning for last year's assembly election, was meant to be the template on how party leaders should "amicably sort out" defamation cases filed against them.

But large sections of AAP leaders feel that while this might be sound legal advice but was a political disaster and would erode the credibility of its leadership.

Particularly because Bikram Majithia is not just another Akali Dal leader.

Mr Majithia is a member of the family that ran Punjab for a decade; he is the brother-in-law of then Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal's younger brother. The attacks on Bikram Majithia were seen to be targeting the Badal family that had ruled Punjab for a decade and was being challenged by AAP, India political start-up.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal told NDTV that Mr Kejriwal's apology had "thoroughly exposed" him.

She calls it a classic example of the kind of election campaigns run by AAP where they built up the entire momentum of its campaign on falsehood.

AAP wasn't entirely able to capitalise on the aggressive campaign that it had run and it was eventually the Amarinder Singh-led Congress which was able to convert the public anger against the Akali Dal government into electoral support.


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