Over the past one month, the Aam Aadmi Party has been facing trouble from its four rebel lawmakers, but the party has decided against sacking them ahead of the Punjab assembly polls to avoid opening ‘another front’.
The decision not to take action against them has been taken as it would lead to opening another front which would mean diverting the party's energy from the campaign, AAP sources said.
The party had removed rebels like Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, but sacking the lawmakers would mean ‘freedom’ from the ambit of the anti-defection law.
Its MP Bhagwant Mann is in the dock for making a video of the Parliament complex and live-streaming it. He has also been accused by suspended AAP MP Harinder Singh Khalsa of coming to the House drunk, causing embarrassment to the party. Mann has refuted the charge of alcoholism.
Dharamvira Gandhi, another suspended MP from Patiala, has announced formation of an alternative political front at a time when the AAP is putting all its energy to wrest Punjab from the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition in the state assembly polls scheduled early next year.
The two MPs were suspended from the AAP for anti-party activities after they criticised its leadership for expelling Yadav and Bhushan.
“Why should I resign from the party? Let them throw me out. As an MP, I have obligations towards the voters of my constituency,” Gandhi had said at the launch of the front last week.
In Delhi, the party is facing a peculiar situation. A former minister Asim Ahmed Khan, sacked over alleged graft charges, claimed that he and his family are facing ‘death threats’ from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and some other partymen.
In another instance, its Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who is known to be close to Yadav, has moved breach of privilege notice against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for ‘misleading’ the Delhi legislative assembly.
“The party does not want to make another Binny and create trouble for itself. We have learnt lessons from it,” said an AAP leader.
Vinod Kumar Binny won from Laxmi Nagar in AAP’s debut assembly polls in December 2013. He was later expelled from the party and joined the BJP. He contested against Sisodia in the 2015 assembly polls.
“Why do we expel them? They want us to do that. Expelling them from the party will not only free them from the party, but they will be able to join another political outfit.
“We don’t intend to give any chance that would increase the strength of the BJP or any other party in the Delhi legislative assembly,” said another AAP leader.
The rebels have to toe the party line in the assembly and the Lok Sabha.
Pushkar and Khan have not even been suspended for their actions.
“Technically they still remain the members of the party despite their rebellion. So, they have to abide by the party whip. The moment they violate the whip, or join any other party political party, they will stand disqualified,” said another AAP leader.
Talking about Pushkar, the leader said, “He opposed the education policy of the Delhi government, but when the bill was put to vote, he had to vote in its favour. Isn't this a U-turn that he is opposing a particular issue, but votes in favour of it.”
Pushkar, however, said, “I have never embarrassed the party, but have raised pertinent questions. I abide by the party whip, but it is also my duty to raise the issues concerning people.”