Jalandhar, May 7: The first meeting addressed by the newly named AAP candidate for Shahkot bypoll, Rattan Singh, here at his village Kakkar Kalan on Sunday witnessed thin attendance. About 30 AAP volunteers turned up for the meeting.

This follows the meeting of AAP held at the local Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall on April 27. Co-convener Dr Balbir Singh had addressed 40-50 AAP workers, volunteers and former MLA candidates and had made a formal declaration regarding AAP contesting the Shahkot bypoll.In fact, sources said that some prominent MLA candidates might shift to the Akali Dal from Jalandhar.

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While the AAP in the state is yet to streamline its cadres following the controversy surrounding Kejriwal’s apology to SAD leader Bikram Singh a row which also triggered the exit of AAP’s LS poll candidate Dr Amarjit Singh Thind into the SAD a month ago the chances for AAP in the Shahkot Assembly bypoll look bleak at present.

While a lot rides on the outcome of the Shahkot bypoll, Punjab veterans of the party had expressed on Saturday that it would be best if the AAP gave the bypoll a miss and concentrated on the 2019 LS poll.

In the meeting held yesterday at Chandigarh under Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, both state chief Bhagwant Mann and Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira were against the decision to contest the Shahkot bypoll.Sources within the party said, “It isn’t the best of decisions for the party in Punjab. It is ideally the time to gear up the cadres in the state. But co-president Dr Balbir Singh seemed insistent on declaring a candidate despite opposition from the veterans.

It seems Delhi’s will is that the Shahkot election be contested irrespective of what the leaders here think. So, the party has no choice but to reluctantly stick to the decision.

”Hans Raj Rana, Adampur MLA candidate from Jalandhar, said, “If the party asks us to canvass, we will consider it. So far, it hasn’t. No one had even seen the new candidate until the party announced his name. None of us were consulted. After the recent defection, it is unlikely that people will rally behind the new candidate.

”While Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira and Dr Balbir Singh have confirmed to the candidate that they would campaign for him, the other Doaba and Jalandhar leaders wore a studied silence on the issue. None of the Doaba MLA candidates of the party attended the meeting on Saturday either.

AAP Shahkot candidate Rattan Singh said, “Sukhpal Khaira will canvass for me so will Dr Balbir Singh. We have already started holding meetings. We held one at the village on Sunday and we will be going door to door in all the villages in the constituency to convince the people. I’m an honest candidate and the people have faith in us. On Monday, 50-60 volunteers from across the state will join us.”

Source Tribune India

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