Aam Admi Party removed its Punjab Chief Sucha Singh Chhotepur, on Friday, after a video clip showed him accepting bribe for assigning constituencies to party candidates for the assembly elections.
21 AAP leaders from Punjab, including members of Parliament Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh, had written a letter to party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking him to immediately sack Mr Chhotepur based on "our party's principles of zero tolerance towards corruption."
They cited as proof against the Punjab leader a sting operation in which the 65-year-old Chhotepur is allegedly seen accepting cash from a candidate. AAP sources said the party leaders have enclosed a video clip with their letter to Mr Kejriwal; the alleged sting has not been made public.
The political affairs committee of the Aam Aadmi Party took the action against the Punjab AAP convener Chhotepur.
Chhotepur will now face a disciplinary committee of the party, comprising Delhi lawmaker Jarnail Singh and former Punjab bureaucrat and AAP leader Jasbir Singh Bir, regarding allegations of corruption.
Chhotepur said, he is ready for any probe by any agency be it CBI.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had called a meeting of top party leaders in Delhi on Friday to discuss Mr Chhotepur's fate.
The AAP leader, who was the party's most visible face in Punjab till now, alleged that he had been framed by a "conspiracy of my own friends” in the AAP.
Mr Chotepur has denied the allegations, demanding to be shown the sting. "This is a conspiracy hatched against me by some of my own partymen," said the former Punjab minister. Addressing a press conference today, he called Mr Kejriwal 'anti-Sikh'.
On being asked by reporters about his plans for leaving the party, Chotepur said "I will not leave the party. I have built it brick by brick in the last two-and-a-half years. Let the party take action against me. I have done nothing wrong,"
Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann told reporters that Chhotepur will be given a chance to explain his stand to the party leadership and that his case has been referred to a two-member committee.
Making a scathing attack, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh asked the Aam Aadmi Party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as why he does not get his own Ford Foundation funding probed along with the funding of Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
"While the AAP leaders from Delhi and UP were maligning Chhotepur for accepting party fund, why was Kejriwal silent on the massive money Sukhpal Khaira and other leaders collected from the NRIs in United States and Canada when they visited these countries in last few months," Captain said.
Congress has sought a probe into the funding of Arvind Kejriwal's NGO which was funded by the Ford Foundation which in turn gets money from the CIA.
"It needs to be probed whether Kejriwal was used for destablising the government in India with foreign funding."
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said, , if any AAP leader or their supporter submits in writing to the state government for alleged bribery in ticket distribution then the state government could probe such allegations after investigating its veracity. S. Badal took a dig at AAP and said that all the rowdy elements out to make money have been given prominence in the party which resembles like a bunch of rag-tag leaders.
Party leader Dr. Dharam Vira Gandhi on Friday alleged that this is a party of a dictator, a single person called Kejriwal, and it is clear that the sting operation was done "intentionally", as part of a design, to defame Chotepur before his expulsion.
Alleging that the Punjab convener was intentionally framed into it, Gandhi said, "I don't say he would have not accepted the money, but he also receives money for the party's expenses. People give money (to the party) and he accepts that as per the party's culture. There are no receipts, balance sheets or a treasurer in the party, thus, everybody is responsible for it. If Sucha Singh is guilty, then Durgesh, Sanjay and Delhi leaderships are more at fault.
None of the AAP leaders, especially Delhi's (central) leaders, never clarified on how much fund they have received from where."
"How much fund they received from abroad and how much they have received from Punjabis in the last one year. They have never issued receipts for the received funds, or maintained a balance sheet, or opened an account, and there is no treasurer as well. The charges against Chottepur are small as compared to huge transactions that take place in Punjab, which even children know," he castigated.
"Besides, the AAP's policy of the central leadership, especially of the league comprising Arvind Kejriwal, Durgesh and Sanjay Singh, their policy is 'use and throw' and 'destroy'. They just don't use a person, but they also throw and destroy him, whether he is Prashantji, Gandhi or Dr Daljit Singh. They have behaved in the same manner with all of them, which is a very wrong tradition for any political party," said Gandhi, who recently launched a new front for "alternative politics".
Mr Chhotepur has been part of both the Akali Dal and the Congress in Punjab, before he teamed up Mr Kejriwal, who asked him to build the party in the state. He had fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election as an AAP candidate from Gurdaspur losing to the BJP's Vinod Khanna.
Mr Kejriwal has since fallen out with Mr Chhotepur, mainly over selection of candidates for the Punjab elections, sources said. The party has announced two lists of candidates and Mr Chhotepur was missing on both occasions.