AAP reaches out to sacked Punjab unit convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur

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The AAP, as part of its efforts to make peace with rebels and former leaders, has reached out to ex-Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, two years after he was sacked on charges of taking bribe for allotting party tickets. On the directions of the Aam Aadmi Partys (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal, emissaries from its Punjab unit met Chhotepur at his residence on Sunday night to persuade him to come back to the party. The emissaries included Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema, AAPs state unit co-president Balbir Singh and MLAs Baljinder Kaur and Meet Hayer. We have met Chhotepurji and we want him to come back in the party, Cheema said here on Monday. The discussion centred around coming together for the future of Punjab. The AAP is peoples choice as the SAD has been rejected by voters, he added. Cheema said he was very positive about the meeting and discussion. However, Chhotepur said he could not forget what the party had done to him. I asked them why they want me to return to the party which caused me immense pain.I was insulted. I cannot forget what the party did to me, he said, without mincing words, in Delhi. I talked to them openly about the partys functioning, like unnecessary interference (by the national leadership) in the state unit. I told them if they cannot take the corrective steps I suggested, then talks cannot go ahead, he added. Chhotepur claimed he was not after any position. No talks were held about (me) returning to the party. After 2016, it was for the first time that AAP leaders met me, he said. I will first talk to my supporters about the meeting. Thereafter, I will decide (on rejoining the AAP), he added. Chhotepur was sacked as Punjab convener of the AAP after a video clip surfaced allegedly showing him accepting money in exchange for poll tickets in a purported sting operation. After his sacking, Chhotepur, who played vital role in building the party in Punjab, formed his own party, Apna Punjab Party, which unsuccessfully contested the 2017 assembly polls. The AAPs peace efforts come at a time when the partys Punjab unit is witnessing infighting. Former LoP Sukhpal Khaira-led rebel faction declared the unit autonomous at a convention in Bathinda in August. The party claimed it has been making efforts to solve issues with the rebel group. However, Khaira and his supporters want the AAPs Delhi leadership to accept their resolutions, including the one declaring the Punjab unit autonomous, as a prerequisite for resolving differences. The rebellion began after Khaira was sacked as the LoP in July this year. The decision was described as undemocratic by his supporters and they demanded a review.