AAP likely to suspend Punjab convener Chhotepur over tickets for cash charge

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH (TIP): AThe Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is contemplating action against its Punjab unit convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur for taking a packet of cash in a reported video sting operation . Not only may he be removed from his post, but even be expelled from the party, barely six months before the assembly elections are due.

The video was shown to AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal upon his return from Himachal Pradesh, where he had gone for a Vipassana retreat from August 1 to 11, and he was “very upset”, said a Delhi-based, senior AAP leader, who briefed the media on the issue on Wednesday, on the condition of not being named.

“That is one of the reasons why Kejriwal did not meet Chhotepur regarding any change in tickets,” said the leader, adding that Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia last week “confronted” Chhotepur with the video, for a reaction before any “appropriate action against him in the next few days”.

Chhotepur has expressed objections over the two lists of candidates announced so far, and has been waiting for an appointment to meet Kejriwal. He was absent at both press conferences where the lists, containing 32 names so far out of 117, were revealed earlier this month.

The video was made by an AAP supporter following verbal complaints that Chhotepur was demanding money for various purposes, the Delhi-based leader said. When asked for a copy of the video, the leader refused to part with it saying that will bring bad name to the party. “But the video is incriminating,” he said, adding that it had more content than acknowledged by Chhotepur in an interview to HT on Tuesday.

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When contacted, Chhotepur said he is not aware of the party mulling any action : “I have already said that it (sting) is a move to embarrass me. I don’t have anything more to say on the matter. I will speak up when the time is right.” He refused to comment on his meeting with Sisodia.

‘No tolerance’

The Delhi-based leader, when asked if Chhotepur was being targeted for raising his voice against the party’s Delhi leadership, said rules are the same for everyone. “If a similar video of mine surfaces, I will be the first to quit politics. There is no tolerance in AAP for such things,” he said.

When HT contacted party MP and campaign panel head Bhagwant Mann on the matter, said the party has taken the matter “very seriously”. “But I don’t know what the party’s next course of action is,” he added.

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