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AAP splits in Punjab, Chhotepur may bat for Navjot Sidhu

Chitleen K Sethi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) faction supporting sacked Punjab convener Sucha Singh

Chhotepur broke away on Friday, vowing to work against the Delhi-led AAP and ending any possibility of the estranged leader’s return.
Chhotepur, say sources, is expected to join the fourth front floated by Navjot Singh Sidhu, Pargat Singh and the Ludhiana-based MLAs Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh. He will provide it an organisational structure to the outfit.
Seven of the 13 zone coordinators of the AAP announced the split during a press conference here. “We are AAP Punjab and have nothing to do with the party led by Arvind Kejriwal,” said JS Dhaliwal, zone coordinator, Anandpur Sahib. He said Chhotepur will soon announce AAP Punjab candidates for the elections.
On joining the fourth front, Chhotepur said he will go by the wish of his supporters. “I am not going back to AAP. That chapter is over,” he said. He agreed if splinter groups do not unite, it will help the Akalis by dividing the anti-incumbency vote.
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He is visiting Golden Temple on Saturday before starting a 10-day tour of the state on September 6.
Reacting to Kejriwal’s video message labelling him corrupt, Chhotepur said, “It’s the other way round. Did I bungle funds? No, because the party didn’t give me any funds. Punjab leaders collected funds and gave them to the Delhi leaders working under Kejriwal. Where did that money go?”
“Can Kejriwal explain who pays for his trips to Punjab? AAP or the Delhi government? What about his flights? Is he an aam aadmi?” he said.
AAP Punjab faction members will be holding protests during Kejriwal’s visit to Punjab on September 10 and 11. “We will show black flags and ask him to go back. Punjab is only for Punjabis,” said Gurinder Singh Bajwa, zone coordinator, Amritsar.
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Appealing to supporters to stop donations to AAP, Bajwa said the hard-earned money of NRIs was being wasted by Delhi leaders on luxuries. “Despite there being an office-cum-residence of the party in Amritsar, Durgesh Pathak (national organisation building head) stayed with his team in a grand hotel for a week. The party paid for it,” he said.
Dr HS Cheema, the Jalandhar zone coordinator, said: “There will be protests against 52 outsiders that the Delhi AAP leadership has appointed in Punjab as conduits to deal in tickets and positions”.

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