There is another war being fought in the faction-hit Aam Aadmi Party -- to rally support ahead of the rebel group’s national convention on Tuesday.
While Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, both thrown out of the party’s top panels, are holding public meetings outside Delhi in the run-up to their Swaraj Samvad (a dialogue for self-rule) rally, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is drumming up support in Delhi.
On Sunday, he warned against “big forces” targeting the party. “Big forces are after us. They want us to fail, trying to defame us but I want to urge you not to trust them,” Kejriwal said at a public meeting in Karawal Nagar in north–east Delhi.
“If you see any news on TV, don’t trust it. Let them do their job, we will do ours,” the CM said at the rally, his second in as many days.
Voted to power with record 67 MLAs in the 70-member Delhi assembly in February, AAP’s spectacular success has been overshadowed by bitter infighting.
Senior leaders Yadav and Bhushan revolted against Kejriwal’s alleged dictatorial style of functioning and have since been sidelined, with many of their supporters also being stripped of party positions.
The purge has not gone down well. The rallies are being seen as Kejriwal’s attempt to ensure that party supporters and volunteers, the backbone of the two-year-old outfit, steer clear of Tuesday’s meeting.
“Some people are trying to destroy the image of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Arvind Kejriwal. We will not let them succeed. We will face them with your support,” Ashutosh said at the rally.
In an interview to CNN-IBN, the AAP leader accused Bhushan and Yadav of “knowingly or unknowingly” helping the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As Kejriwal was not seen among people and in the media after the expulsion of Yadav and Bhushan from the political affairs committee and the national executive, the party was worried that the other side had gained sympathy, sources said.
Kejriwal’s rallies were timed so that people could hear his side of the story before the Swaraj Samvad meeting. In the last few days, the CM has announced aid to rain-hit farmers, has sought funds from the Centre for unauthorised colonies, launched anti-corruption helpline and raised many other issues that find resonance among people.
Still, the Swaraj Samvad will be closely watched, by the party as well as political observers. Organisers say better-than-expected response has forced them to shift the meeting to a bigger venue in Gurgaon.