Chandigarh: Two groups of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters came to blows outside the Jalandhar Press Club Friday over distribution of tickets for the upcoming state assembly elections.
The incident took place Friday evening, when the party’s Punjab in-charge Raghav Chadha was slated to address a press conference to announce the induction of Congress leader Dinesh Dhall into the AAP fold.
However, before the press conference could start, a large group of AAP supporters gathered outside the venue and started raising slogans against Chadha, and stopped him from entering the building.
“With the situation going out of control, Chadha left the venue and returned with other cars and more people. The press conference lasted 10 minutes, after which the protesters entered the building and clashed inside,” Dr Shivdayal Mali, an AAP leader who was among those raising slogans against Chadha, told ThePrint.
“Clashes took place outside as well. Nobody was injured, though blows were exchanged and somebody even threw bricks at the protesters,” he added.
Videos of the clash that went viral on social media show police personnel standing at the venue entrance while party supporters pushed each other around, shouting slogans like “Raghav Chadha chor hai (Raghav Chadha is a thief)”.
Another video showed Chadha hastily leaving the venue as mediapersons asked him to comment on the clash and the protesters’ allegations of faulty distribution of tickets.
ThePrint reached Chadha through calls and messages, but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.
The AAP released the names of three more candidates for the assembly elections Friday. Raman Arora has been fielded from Jalandhar Central, Fauza Singh Sarari from Guru Harsahai and Deep Kamboj from Abohar.
For the 117 assembly seats in the state, the party has so far announced the names of 104 candidates, according to an ANI report.
‘Party supporters upset as their leaders didn’t get ticket’
AAP’s Jalandhar secretary Sonu Luthra, who was with Chadha when the incident took place, told ThePrint that the party supporters were upset because they were expecting their leaders to be given the ticket.
“It is for the party high command to decide who will get the ticket. However, there were certain AAP leaders in Jalandhar who were hoping that they would be getting the ticket. When they were not chosen, they lodged their protest in this fashion,” he added.
Luthra said that in Jalandhar West, the party had chosen to give the ticket to Shital Anurag, while Dr Mali had been expecting a ticket from there. “From Jalandhar Central, Dr Sanjeev Sharma was expecting a ticket, but today the party announced the name of Raman Arora. Similarly, former Congress leader Dinesh Dhall, who joined today, is expected to be given the ticket from Jalandhar North,” he added.
‘AAP taking Punjab for a ride’
Dr Mali said it was not just about him not getting a ticket.
“Yes I was expecting to be given the ticket but if I have been denied the ticket then the person who has been chosen should be better than me in some way. Instead they chose people who are barely hours old in the party and have criminal cases registered against them,” he told ThePrint.
“What is the criteria being followed by the party to give out tickets? No one knows. There is no transparency at all. We have been hearing allegations of money exchanging hands during the distribution of tickets. Though we do not have any proof, but looking at the kind of people who are being given tickets, we tend to believe these allegations. Today also allegations of bungling were being openly made during the protest. The AAP is not what they claim. They are taking Punjab for a ride,” he further said.
Luthra said that there was no question of money playing a role in ticket distribution. “As long as these persons were hopeful of getting the ticket they were completely supporting Arvind Kejriwal and Raghav Chadha. Now they are leveling these baseless allegations because they have been denied tickets,” he added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)