AAP peace masks storm within, party meet may see renewal rebellion

  • Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2015 10:01 IST

The chief minister is back home, his cough is gone, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav are out of the Aam Aadmi Party’s political affairs committee, and offering to relinquish all party posts for peace in their time. All seems well — or is getting to be — with AAP.

Not really. Mounting pressure from party volunteers outside Delhi and a looming party meet may have forced AAP chief and CM Arvind Kejriwal’s hand on going national but the infighting is far from over. The decision of PAC to venture outside Delhi, where it swept to power a month ago, was taken despite Kejriwal’s “considerable initial reluctance”, AAP sources said on Wednesday.

Yadav, who along with Bhushan on Wednesday indicated they wouldn’t mind letting go of party posts if it could help paper over cracks, has been the chief proponent of the AAP spreading its wings beyond Delhi.

Founding members Yadav and Bhushan have also reiterated their demands for transparency, more autonomy to state units, better volunteer engagement, action for lapses, and regularisation of various party panels in the latest letter, sources said. In public, the two rebels deny having written any such letter.

“Yadav’s demand resonated with thousands of volunteers. The party had to signal to them that we care for their aspirations,” a party source said, requesting anonymity.

ooming over AAP’s new-found peace is the March 28 national council meet, which will see a gathering of 300 members from across the country. The national council elects the national executive which chooses PAC members.

Some fireworks can be expected as Yadav and Bhushan’s ouster from the PAC and party’s India plans come up for discussion during the meeting to be addressed by Kejriwal.

The rebel faction has among other things questioned Kejriwal’s alleged dictatorial-style of functioning and lack of transparency in decision-making. “Those who swear by the party’s constitution would not give up the issue of transparency,” a party source said.

Yadav enjoys considerable support among the volunteers -- the backbone of the party -- from outside Delhi. The state volunteers outnumber those from the Capital -- most of who are Kejriwal supporters -- in the national council.

“The role of Yadav and Bhushan... also remains to be decided. If it comes to vote at the national council, things may get messy,” the source said.

Yadav and Bhushan’s removal was closely contested. Of the 21 national executive members, only 11 voted in favour of the decision. Two members, including Kejriwal, didn’t vote.

Following a campaign launched by some AAP MLAs to kick Yadav-Bhushan out of the party as well, both sides are calling up and writing emails to the national council members for support, sources said.

The party struggled through Wednesday to explain its U-turn. “I don’t know where this confusion (that AAP will not look beyond Delhi) came from. To dispel that impression, the PAC talked about the party’s national expansion,” AAP leader Ashutosh said.

Immediately after he took oath as the CM, Kejriwal said the decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections -– which proved to be disastrous -- was an arrogant move. He assured supporters he would focus only on Delhi and reiterated the position on March 8, saying he was not Napoleon out to win states.

“Kejriwal’s focus on Delhi does not mean that the party won’t work at the national front. The AAP will expand, colleagues will get responsibilities in states, volunteers will have a role in decision-making,” senior party leader Sanjay Singh said.

Yadav welcomed the decision. “I am happy as now we are focusing on correct issues,” he said.

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