NEW DELHI: A day after Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal apologised to former Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, party's Punjab chief Bhagwant Mann has resigned from his post. Confirming his resignation, he tweeted that he will continue to fight against the drug mafia and corruption in Punjab. "I m resigning as a president of AAP Punjab ...but my fight against drug mafia and all kind of corruption in Punjab will continue as an 'Aam Aadmi' of Punjab," he wrote.
ਮੈਂ ਆਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਪਾਰਟੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨਗੀ ਦੇ ਅਹੁਦੇ ਤੋਂ ਅਸਤੀਫ਼ਾ ਦੇ ਰਿਹਾ ਹਾਂ ..
I m resigning as a president of AAP Punjab ...but my fight against drug mafia and all kind of corruption in Punjab will continue as an “Aam Aadmi “ of Punjab
— Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) March 16, 2018
The Delhi Chief Minister had on Thursday settled the defamation case filed against him by the former Punjab revenue minister and said that he has learnt that the drug trade allegations were unfounded. "In the recent past, I made certain statements and allegations against you regarding your alleged involvement in drug trade. These statements became a political issue. Now, I've learnt that allegations are unfounded,'' the Delhi CM said in a statement.
"I hereby withdrew all my statements and allegations made against you and apologise for the same," he added and reportedly furnished a copy of the apology to the court.
His "meek surrender" on Thursday had drawn flak from AAP's Punjab unit leaders who termed Kejriwal's step a "letdown". Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly and senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira said he was appalled by the apology. "We're appalled n stunned by the apology of @ArvindKejriwal tendered today, we don't hesitate to admit that we haven't been consulted on this meek surrender by a leader of his stature (sic)," Khaira tweeted.
Another senior AAP leader Kanwar Sandhu also called it a let down. "Arvind Kejriwal' apology to Bikram Majithia in the defamation case on drugs is a let down to the people, especially the youth of Punjab. We in Punjab have not been taken into the loop. Our fight for Punjab continues," Sandhu tweeted.
However, party leaders in Delhi had said the move was to shed court cases, in which the party convenor finds himself mired. They had also hinted that a similar course may be adopted in the defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. "Most of these cases require personal appearance in court. These cases have been foisted by our political rivals to de-motivate us and keep our leadership busy in these legal matters. The decision to amicably sort out all such legal cases is a strategy as devised by the legal team of the party," spokesperson of AAP's Delhi unit Saurabh Bharadwaj said.
Majithia had filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and two other AAP leaders, Sanjay Singh and Ashish Khetan, in May 2016 after they repeatedly targeted him over the problem of drugs in Punjab while campaigning for the Punjab Assembly elections.
Reacting to Kejriwal's apology, Majithia had said he was grateful that truth had won and the Delhi CM had realised his mistake. He said that since the AAP leader had "tendered his apology", he did not want to pursue the defamation case filed against him. "I thank Kejriwal for showing greatness in seeking apology for his remarks made against me. I have told my lawyers that from our side, this case ends as Kejriwal has sought apology. I have asked my counsels to withdraw the defamation case. Person makes mistake and with the grace of God, if I have the ability to forgive and I will forgive," the SAD leader said.
"I had said from the beginning that either he will say sorry or he will go to jail. Sending someone to jail is not my intention. It is indeed a historical moment that a sitting chief minister has submitted a written apology in court withdrawing all statements he made against me," said Majithia. AAP leader Ashish Khetan had apologized as well, he added.