The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) rebel faction claimed its support was growing, ahead of a key meet next week that may result in a split in the party that has been mired in infighting since it stormed to power in Delhi in February.
Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, sacked from AAP’s key decision-making bodies last month, have called a national convention of volunteers in Gurgaon on April 14 to decide the future course of action.
The two founding members and some other key leaders have had differences with party leader Arvind Kejriwal over his style of functioning since AAP’s drubbing in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The meeting will clear whether or not the rebels can pose any real challenge to the party.
Those organising the event called ‘Swaraj Samvad’ (open dialogue) say about 4,000 volunteers across states have favoured the move online, and half of them agreed to join. “Over 100 AAP LS candidates have said they will come. We expect about 1,500 people to attend the dialogue,” said an organiser.
The rebel faction claims rights activist Aruna Roy, who once worked with Kejriwal, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar and former party leader Medha Patkar, besides members of AAP’s decision-making bodies were among those who would attend the meet. AAP is said to have warned volunteers against joining the ‘Samwad’.
Some senior leaders of the party, including social activist Patkar and Tamil Nadu’s Christina Samy, have quit the party following the action against Yadav and Bhushan. The party has also had to act against the likes of Anand Kumar, Ajit Jha and Rakesh Sinha who openly supported the two.
Senior leaders like Mayank Gandhi Dharamvir Gandhi are with the party but they have spoken against the treatment meted out to Yadav and Bhushan.
Ahead of the ‘Samvad’, Yadav has been holding meetings in states to drum up support. In Lucknow where 500 people are said to have turned up on Thursday, Yadav said the April 14 meet was not an attempt to break AAP.
“We are getting unprecedented support for the samvad. AAP is not like Samajwadi Party or BSP, which had started with high ideals and mission. Even Congress, DMK and Akali Dal had started from a revolution but ended up in the pockets of individuals,” he said.
In his first direct interaction with volunteers, Yadav on Saturday night did a Google Hangout session explaining ‘how to ensure justice is done to founding principles and ideals, which made so many of us give up all and join this movement.’