New Delhi: As Aam Aadmi Party goes into introspection mode after a drubbing in the MCD elections, its election loss in Punjab is also coming under the scanner.
On Thursday, Sanjay Singh resigned as Punjab state-in-charge, followed by his colleague Durgesh Pathak.
News18âs Uday Singh Rana spoke to senior AAP leader and Punjab leader of opposition HS Phoolka on the partyâs strategy going forward. Edited excerpts:
Uday Singh Rana:Â Sanjay Singh resigned from his post, accepting responsibility for the partyâs loss in Punjab. Is there a growing difference of opinion in the party over the EVM issue?
HS Phoolka:Â See, Sanjay Singh resigned because he wanted to take responsibility since we did not perform as expected. It is very normal for someone to do so. As far as EVMs are concerned, we have all made our positions clear. AAP is not the only party raising this. In fact, the BJP was the first party to raise this issue. When the BJP was in opposition, there was doubt over the credibility of EVMs but suddenly they are perfect. Why so?
USR: Is the AAP going for serious introspection?
HSP: If introspection was not happening then why would two senior leaders take moral responsibility? But that is the beauty of AAP. Anybody can freely express his views. In Congress, can anybody survive by criticising Rahul Gandhi? In BJP, can anybody disagree with Modi and Amit Shah?
USR: Isnât criticizing your top leaders a sign of internal strife?
HSP: No, that is not an indication of strife. That is an indication of a truly democratic set up. Other parties muffle their leaders. We give liberty to our leaders and members.
USR: From Punjab to Delhi, the results have been significantly below your projections. Would you say AAP falls victim to hype?
HSP: We were going by what some reputed surveys were saying. They all gave us a higher number of seats. But in reality, the AAP is still the fastest growing party in the country. The facts speak for themselves.
USR: After three repeated losses, questions are being raised on the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal. What would you say on that?
HSP: This new style and concept of politics has been brought in by Arvind Kejriwal. What he has achieved in a short time is a wonder. Just look at his work. He reduced taxes in Delhi, but the revenue went up. Look at the work Delhi government has done in the medical sector. AAP has done a lot of good work but we did not do any propaganda like other parties. We thought it would be enough to just work and people would see it for themselves. But we realised that we would have to go to them to show the work.
USR: During the Punjab campaign, there was a notion that there was discord between the Punjab and Delhi leadership. And is that why you lost the election?
HSP: Like I said, Sanjay Singh resigned because he wanted to take moral responsibility. And yes, there was some discord, no doubt about it. But it was a simple difference of opinion. Today, things are fine.
USR: Why was there discord?
HSP: I was not privy to the disagreements but I know they were there. We are a democratic party and disagreements are bound to happen. But since I became leader of opposition, there has been no interference whatsoever from anybody. My MLAs and I call our own shots.
USR: What, according to you, were the main reasons you lost the Punjab elections?
HSP: We are going to look into them, introspect and come out with the reasons. I would not want to pre-judge before the introspection is complete.