Ever since its pathbreaking foray into politics in 2014, Aam Aadmi Party has been struggling to make another impact. Though it charmed Delhi twice over in assembly elections, it was rejected in Punjab, Goa and the municipal election held in the Capital in Delhi.
But perhaps introspection after consecutive losses is not enough. The rift in the party has widened with old hands making their displeasure - over ‘undemocratic’ party brass, opaque decision-making and disconnect from ground-level workers - clear. As Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal struggled to strike an uneasy truce between the warring factions on Wednesday, here’s an explainer on how AAP got here (HIGHLIGHTS):
1. No consensus on EVMs: Kejriwal raised the pitch against “faulty” electronic voting machines (EVM) after AAP lost in the Punjab and Goa assembly polls in March. Kejriwal and other leaders blamed the EVMs again after AAP finished a distant second in MCD election result declared on April 26. By then, Kumar Vishwas released a video - We The Nation - in which he indirectly attacked Kejriwal and said people will question him if remains silent on corruption. After the poll result, he said in an interview on April 28 that EVMs alone could not be blamed but the fact that party brass took decisions behind closed doors and had lost touch with volunteers did AAP in.
2. Rise of ‘personality cult’: Vishwas had also said in the video, “If you form government in Delhi on an anti-corruption plank and fall silent when some of your own come under scanner, people have the right to question you.” He also questioned the “personality cult” and drew Kejriwal’s parallels with Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Yogi Adityanath. Kejriwal, on his part, tweeted the video saying the video was wonderful and everyone should watch it.
3. Amanatullah speaks out: MLA Amanatullah Khan, also a member of PAC, accused Vishwas of working on behalf of BJP on April 29. “Vishwas is telling MLAs to make him convener or else go with him to BJP, which is ready to offer Rs 30 crore to each MLA,” he said. Hours after Khan’s allegation, Kejriwal tweeted that Vishwas is his brother and anyone trying to show rift between them is an enemy of the party. A few other MLAs objected to Khan’s statement.
4. Party brass upset: Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the matter of leaders giving public statements and interviews, was discussed at the PAC meeting, which Vishwas skipped. “There was disappointment over this also. Arvind and other PAC members are sad that people are giving statements outside the party,” he said. On Tuesday evening, a teary- eyed Vishwas told reporters that if Khan had said something about Kejriwal or Sisodia, he would have been thrown out of the party.
5. Damage control measures: Kejriwal rushed to Vishwas’s residence late on Tuesday night where other leaders were already in a meeting with him. Kejriwal, Vishwas and other leaders then went to the CM residence for a meeting. The meeting remained inconclusive as Vishwas left CM residence late night without saying anything. AAP then held another PAC meeting at 11 am on Wednesday. The PAC decided to suspend Amanatullah Khan from the party and make Vishwas the party incharge for Rajasthan.