The late-night attempts in the Aam Aadmi (AAP) at rapprochement caught many by surprise.
When party chief and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal returned to Delhi on Monday night, he didn’t mince words in expressing his unhappiness over personal battles being fought in the media while he has been away.
On his return from a naturopathy clinic in Bengaluru, senior party leaders had gathered at Kejriwal’s residence in Ghaziabad. Kejriwal’s message was: Your immature behaviour is demoralising party volunteers. “He said what kept the leaders from talking it out,” said a source.
Four AAP leaders — Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh and Ashish Khetan — were tasked to reach out to Yadav and Bhushan. The two veterans have raised the issue of lack of inner democracy in the party, and are themselves facing the charge of working against the party and challenging Kejriwal’s leadership.
Khetan called up Yadav before the four drove to his house at Madhu Vihar in East Delhi. Away from intense media glare, the meeting started a little before midnight and went on till 2.30am. The meeting assumes significance because Vishwas and Singh were part of a group of AAP leaders who on March 10 openly justified the slighting of Yadav and Bhushan.
“It was a bit of surprise. But both parties cordially agreed AAP cannot be allowed to disintegrate. Yadav categorically said he would never allow ego to take precedence,” said a source. “Ashutosh has said a few things about Yadav in public. But the two have known each other for years. They got along quite well. There was no bitterness,” he said.
There was no breakthrough but the ice was broken. These leaders had not spoken to each other after the acrimonious March 4 national executive meeting that voted out Yadav and Bhushan from the PAC, the party’s top decision-making body.
But Bhushan declined Khetan’s offer for a meeting, saying he would speak only to Kejriwal. Khetan had earlier attacked the Bhushans but later expressed regret. On Monday, Bhushan had sent feelers to Kejriwal, saying he and Yadav wanted to meet him to end differences. Kejriwal’s reply was “we will meet soon”.Both camps said the discussions were “positive”. Emerging out of the late-night meeting, Singh and Yadav said a process had started and needed to be continued.
The AAP crisis began last month when a series of leaked letters revealed two camps — one supporting Kejriwal and the other comprising veterans such as Yadav and Bhushan who said the chief minister was dictatorial.“The talks will be taken ahead. I am maintaining from the first day that a lot of hope is associated with this party. Last few days’ ‘manthan’ has produced a lot of ‘visha’. It’s time for ‘amrita’,” Yadav said later in the day.