New Delhi: To prevent further poaching of MLA’s and erosion of their leadership, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab seems to look in a defensive mode to thwart any more political defection of their MLAs to the opposition camp ahead of the 2022 battle of the ballot.

Quitting of AAP’s Bathinda (rural) MLA Rupinder Kaur Ruby on November 10 had set the alarm bells ringing in the party’s Centre command which chose to take immediate measures of checking luring away of their MLAs by opponent political parties.

The release of the first list of its candidates for the upcoming assembly elections just a day after Ruby’s resignation is seen as one visible measure taken by the party among other various invisible measures including keeping an eye on its flock.

AAP, notably, had emerged as the second-largest party in Punjab by winning 20 seats out of 117 during the 2017 assembly elections but the quitting of its MLAs in succession has left a major dent in the party’s image.

In June 2021, the party’s three MLAs namely Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa who were elected from Bholath, Maur and Bhadur assembly constituencies had resigned and joined Congress.

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Earlier, AAP’s MLA from Mansa Nazar Singh Manshahi had also resigned from the party and had joined Congress.

In the past, the party’s Ropar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa had also resigned on May 4, 2019, but again returned to the party in November 2019 after a brief stint in Congress.

Dakha MLA H S Phoolka had also resigned in January 2019 and the party’s MLA from Kharar Kanwar Sandhu is also inactive.

Other big names who had left the AAP for one or another reason include Harinder Singh Khalsa, Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, Sucha Singh Chotepur and Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi.

There is no doubt that political poaching is a common practice but it also causes a major dent to the party’s winning prospect as every MLA that quits has a local influence. It is seen that defection is on the rise in AAP since all the political parties are leaving nothing on the chance to get their hand on levers of power in the poll-bound state.

Strangely, AAP’s probable candidates are reluctant to meet media – maybe they have been advised by their senior since even the smallest of slip of tongue could come dear to the party.

Meanwhile, reacting to the defection of MLA’s, AAP spokesperson Gurbhej Singh has said that those who had left the party knew that they wouldn’t be given party tickets since they had not moved in public during their tenure.

“To secure their political future they are finding other platforms but they wouldn’t get support or the votes from the public since in the past, they had won the election riding on the reputation of AAP and its supremo Arvind Kejriwal,” said Singh.

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