The expulsion of AAP founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party’s powerful national executive on Saturday appeared to have had an immediate fallout in several state units where the fledgling party seems to have split into two antagonistic groups.
The removal of the Yadav-Bhushan duo was endorsed by an overwhelming majority at the AAP’s national council meet as a denouement to what was widely seen as the duo’s banner of revolt against the party’s national convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Within an hour, the AAP in Bihar appeared to have split into two distinct group, one swearing allegiance to the Yadav-Bhushan duo and the other backing Kejriwal. Each group described itself as the real AAP and claimed overwhelming support of workers.
“We are the real and only AAP in Bihar. We are with Yadav and Bhushan, which means we are with those who represent democracy and sentiment of workers,” said Basant Chaudhary, convenor of the AAP’s 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign committee for Bihar.
Arrayed on the other side of the divide was Parveen Amanullah, Bihar’s sole invitee to the AAP’s national executive.
“I and the AAP in Bihar are firmly with Arvind. The exit of the Yadav-Bhushan duo and their supporters is good riddance. Now, we can be on our way to build the party in the state,” said Amanullah.
The division is likely to dent the AAP’s chances in the assembly elections just as it seemed to be making some headway in the state. It contested all but one of 40 seats in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, but did not win any.
“What we are looking at in Bihar is a stillbirth of two AAPs. A split may well mean neither of the two factions will have even a decent chance of making the political cut, especially in the context of Bihar assembly poll due in October this year,” said an AAP supporter.
The fracas in Delhi is also threatening to derail the Karnataka unit’s plans to make a dent in the upcoming civic elections in Bengaluru on the back of the euphoria generated by the AAP’s win in Delhi.
Many party leaders expressed fears they will fare miserably if the elections are held in April-May. “Our voter base is not the concern as it is pretty much intact. We’re worried about our members and volunteers,” said one party leader who contested the Lok Sabha election on an AAP ticket.
Another leader said if the AAP did not make a start with the Bengaluru election, it might have to wait for 10 years to make a mark in Karnataka politics.
“It’s not like Bhushan and Yadav had a huge following here. Our members are upset because these fights have left us looking like any other party,” he said.
The AAP’s Punjab unit was also divided, with its leader in the Lok Sabha and Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi supporting the rebels, while Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and Fatehgarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa are backing Kerjriwal. Faridkot MP Prof Sadhu Singh’s alignment is still unknown.
The division has shattered the dream of party workers who were hoping for big wins in the 2017 assembly polls after creating history by sending four MPs to Parliament.