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Aug 2 convention will strengthen party in Pb: AAP leader

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Press Trust of India Chandigarh
AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu, one of the eight legislators who have opposed the removal of Sukhpal Khaira as the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, today said the August 2 volunteers convention would "strengthen" the party in the state.
The statement comes a day after Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia declared the organising of the Bathinda event by Khaira and his supporters as an "anti-party activity".
"The convention is being organised on the demand and pressure of party volunteers who want to ask us which way the party is going," Sandhu told reporters here today as he rejected Sisodia's claim.
On July 27, a day after Khaira was removed, it was decided to hold a volunteers convention to discuss issues being faced by Punjab and the crisis within AAP, he said.
However, as eight AAP MLAs came out in support of Khaira terming his removal "undemocratic" and demanding that the decision be reviewed, the convention is being seen as a show of strength by firebrand AAP leader.
Sandhu further said that they were expecting 12 to 13 MLAs to turn up at the event and added that invitations were also sent to party's national convener Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia.
"We want to strengthen the party through this convention. Over the past one and half years after the elections, the steps taken by the party weakened the outfit," he said

"Despite a strong wave, party faced defeat in Assembly polls. The performance in Gurdaspur and Shahkot bypolls was dismal. The party's graph has been going down continuously," he claimed.
"To contain this downfall, the convention is being held. It is not an anti-party activity. Kejriwal is our leader," he said.
Sandhu said AAP volunteers were posing questions related to Kejriwal's apology and removal of Khaira. So, the convention was just a medium to answer their queries and also discuss the strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Reacting to Sisodia's claim that the congregation was against the party, Sandhu said: "If a party volunteer in Punjab cannot hold a meeting on his own then how he could be regarded as a volunteer. Is he a slave."

The MLA from Kharar went on to blame the leadership in Delhi for allegedly not giving autonomy to the state unit to take decisions for the benefit of the party.
"Party leadership is supreme. They can order us. But we are not rubber stamps," said Sandhu.
He alleged that the leadership in Delhi had already made its mind to remove Khaira from the post of LoP when they asked them for their views.
"A letter signed by Kejriwal for the appointment of Harpal Singh Cheema as LoP had already been sent to Punjab Assembly Speaker when we were being asked for our views on removal of Khaira," said Sandhu.
"We want change and autonomy for the state unit," he asserted.

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First Published: Jul 31 2018 | 5:45 PM IST

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