New Delhi: A split in the Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to the fore as dissident members held a volunteer convention in Bhatinda on Thursday to dissolve the party structure in the state and declare the unit autonomous.

Senior AAP leaders had termed the event “anti-party" before the meeting was held. However, they have decided to reach out to the dissident leaders to avoid a split.

The event led by former leader of opposition and AAP member of the legislative assembly (MLA) Sukhpal Sigh Khaira saw other MLAs also come out in support.

“The people of Punjab will decide their fate. We have assembled here to take a decision. We have assembled here to continue the same wave that was meant to change the state. People here are suffering. We will go with like-minded parties and change the future of Punjab," Khaira told the volunteers.

Volunteers who attended the convention passed a resolution asking the state unit to take decisions independent from the Delhi leadership.

The move comes after senior AAP leader and deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, who is the party in-charge for the northern state, removed Khaira as the leader of opposition and appointed Dalit MLA Harpal Singh Cheema to the post. The move saw at least six MLAs from Punjab come out to oppose the move.

“There is no split in the party. There is some misunderstanding among leaders. The Punjab unit of the party has always been autonomous. We have now decided not to take action against the leaders. The people of Punjab had voted seeing the autonomy in the party," Harpal Singh Cheema, leader of opposition in the assembly said.

The Punjab unit of the AAP has faced constant infighting. In March, the party averted a split after AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal apologized to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia for accusing him of being involved in the illegal drugs trade.

AAP has 20 MLAs in the 117-member assembly, making it the main opposition. The party also has four members in the Lok Sabha from the state.

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