AAP removes Chhotepur as Punjab convenor

AAP removes Chhotepur as Punjab convenor

AAP removes Chhotepur as Punjab convenor
Cracking the whip, the AAP today sacked its Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who was heading the party in the poll bound state, in the wake of allegations that he took bribe from a ticket aspirant.

The decision to remove Chhotepur as Punjab convenor was taken by AAP's highest decision making body, the Political Affairs Committee, presided over by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

AAP spokesperson Deepak Bajpai claimed that the party had received a series of complaints against Chhotepur after a video clip surfaced allegedly showing him taking money in a purported sting operation. Chhotepur had rejected the allegations. The meeting was attended by party's top brass and MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh, AAP's Punjab co-convenor Durgesh Pathak, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Labour Minister Gopal Rai.

The party has also formed a two member team comprising Jarnail Singh, party's co-convenor in Punjab and MLA from Rajouri Garden and retired IAS officer Jasbir Singh Bir. "Chhotepur was also given a chance to exit honourably, but he denied that," said an AAP leader.

Mann, who represents Sangrur, claimed the party has also received a compliant that Chhotepur sought Rs 60 lakh from from a ticket aspirant and the deal was fixed at Rs 30 lakh. "The person has already paid him Rs 4 lakh, of which Chhotepur returned Rs 3 lakh. He kept the rest of the amount with him," Mann said.

Jarnail Singh said Chhotepur will be given a chance to explain his stand. Meanwhile, Chhotepur, in a news conference at Chandigarh, said, "I am saddened that the party, instead of defending me has levelled allegations against me." On the purported sting operation against him, Chhotepur claimed it was a "conspiracy" hatched by "my own friends within the party."

21 AAP leaders from Punjab had yesterday shot off a letter to party's national convenor Kejriwal asking him to immediately sack Chhotepur from the party after a controversy erupted over a video clip allegedly showing him taking money. Chhotepur said that it was "unfortunate" that when a party convenor meets Deputy Chief Minister (Manish Sisodia) the entire thing is recorded. "He is a spy," Chhotepur alleged.

He said that he would not leave the AAP. "Rather I will strive hard for the party," he said. Mann rejected the allegations saying Sisodia is too busy with the "good work" in Delhi. Chhotepur, 65, a time MLA who was a minister in Surjit Singh Barnala government in 1980s. He had joined the AAP ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

After the party won four Lok Sabha seats from Punjab, Chhotepur, known for his oratory skills, was made the state convenor. "I have 40 years of political career. I am honest and a simple farmer. I am ready for CBI probe (on allegations of bribe). If found guilty they (AAP leadership) can hang me," Chhotepur said.

He said that he fought elections for the seat of MLA, MP and SGPC general House, but it was always his well wishers who gave him funds. "I never asked for money from anyone," he said. Hitting out at AAP leadership, he said that he raised the party in Punjab by toiling hard, but he was never given funds for the work.

"There is no state committee in Punjab, no treasurer, I am a state convenor but AAP leader Durgesh Pathak always ignored me," he said. "For the past one month Durgesh is not talking to me," he said while claiming that this happened when he once told him in Amritsar that party volunteers are of the opinion that tickets will be sold.

Citing a Delhi meeting, he said that he had openly said in the meeting that the power centre is Durgesh. "He is distributing tickets," he said. Chhotepur, who had shown dissent on first list of 21 AAP candidates, said that he was in favour of honest person getting the party ticket.

Rejecting that he was a candidate for the CM post, he said, "I was never a candidate for the CM post. I am a simple and honest man." On his next course of action, he said that it would be decided by the volunteers. "It is the volunteers who will decide whether I am a thief or a honest person. I don't need certificate from them (AAP leadership)," he said.

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