New Delhi/Chandigarh: The AAP on Saturday suspended parliamentarians Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa from primary membership of the party and initiated disciplinary proceedings against them.
Both are Lok Sabha members from Punjab. Gandhi, a cardiologist and social worker, represents Patiala constituency, while Khalsa, a former diplomat, represents Fatehgarh Sahib constituency.
The Aam Aadmi Party's Political Affairs Committee (PAC) suspended the MPs and referred disciplinary proceedings against them to the National Disciplinary Action Committee, said party spokesperson Deepak Bajpai.
"In its meeting on Saturday, the PAC took cognizance of anti-party activities indulged in by Gandhi and Khalsa in Punjab.
"In a unanimous decision, the PAC suspended Khalsa and Gandhi from the party and referred their cases to the National Disciplinary Action Committee," Bajpai said.
All PAC members except Kumar Vishwas were present in the meeting.
"Now the three-member NDAC, with Pankaj Gupta, Dilip Pandey and me as its members, will look into the complaints of indiscipline and anti-party activities against Gandhi and Khalsa," he added.
Bajpai charged Gandhi and Khalsa with involvement "in the activities of certain outfits, opposed to aims and objectives of the party".
"The only aim of these outfits is to damage the party and anti-corruption movement in the country," he said, adding that there were many instances that show that Gandhi and Khalsa were trying to establish a parallel organisation with the sole objective of damaging the party in Punjab.
AAP sources in Punjab said Gandhi and Khalsa were suspended after they attended a rally organised by suspended party leader from Punjab, Daljit Singh.
Both leaders attended the parallel rally organised on Saturday at Baba Bakala near Amritsar.
"I cannot tolerate dictatorship (in the party). He wants to run the Punjab unit through remote control," Gandhi told the media, referring to the style of functioning of AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Gandhi said the AAP was joining hands in Bihar with forces aligned with 'tainted' leaders like Lalu Prasad and parties like the Congress.
The AAP has four members in the Lok Sabha -- all from Punjab. The other two are comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann (Sangrur) and former educationist Sadhu Singh (Faridkot).
With the suspension of the two MPs, infighting in the Punjab unit of AAP is likely to intensify.
Punjab is scheduled to hold assembly elections in early 2017 and the AAP was preparing itself to give a good fight to the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine and the opposition Congress.
The AAP had caught the fancy of voters in Punjab's towns and even in the rural hinterland in the Lok Sabha elections last year. It won four seats and its candidates performed well on three other seats. Even Kejriwal admitted later that the Punjab results were "unexpected".
In a statement, the AAP on Saturday said: "Fed up with two terms of misrule by the BJP-SAD combine, people of Punjab have decided to go with AAP to bring the Delhi model of corruption-free governance to the state.
"Gandhi and Khalsa have joined hands with the corrupt BJP-SAD leaders in Punjab and have betrayed the faith of the common man."
"With a clear intent of creating confusion among party volunteers and damaging the party, Gandhi and Khalsa today (Saturday) organised a conference, parallel to that of the AAP, at Baba Bakala on the occasion of Rakhar Puniya," the statement said.
"They used pictures of party's national convenor Arvind Kejriwal and party MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh to create confusion and help Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP.
"They used party symbol and pictures of party leaders in the publicity material of their conference without due permission from the party," the statement added.
Earlier this year, the AAP had suspended founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the primary membership of the party.
"Suspension of MPs Dharamvira Gandhi and Khalsa by AAP shows vertical split in Punjab and no tolerance for honesty and dissent in the party," Prashant Bhushan tweeted.
"If AAP can't tolerate selfless and committed Patriots like Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, there is clearly no space for honesty and dissent left there," he posted.
Reacting to the suspension of the two MPs, Yogendra Yadav also tweeted: "Delhi darbar suspends MPs Gandhi and Khalsa, becoz its Baffled by self-respecting Punjabis, rattled by vol support to them, scared of truth."