A raging row within the Aam Aadmi Party appeared to have blown over as a rebel faction against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal struck a conciliatory note on Tuesday, but sources said differences were likely to simmer under the surface.
Senior leader Shanti Bhushan played peacemaker after a series of leaked letters over the past few days indicated two opposing camps surfacing within the party, with son Prashant Bhushan and former academic Yogendra Yadav in the faction miffed with the alleged “one-person-centric campaign” surrounding the chief minister.
The senior Bhushan said the duo should support Kejriwal as the party’s national convener, one of the points of dispute that emerged less than a month after the AAP’s stunning victory in the Delhi elections. “That’s the best for the party, and such a stand will achieve the goals for which the party was set up. There should be no rift,” he said, contradicting his views prior to the Delhi polls that Kejriwal should quit the party’s top post.
Signs of reconciliation emerged after founder members Prashant Bhushan and Yadav decided to attend Wednesday’s national executive meeting in Delhi and indicated they were not leaving the party, a day after speculation swirled they may be asked to step down from a top decision-making body.
As the party worked to paper over the cracks, Kejriwal tweeted he was deeply hurt by the spat and said was a betrayal of the trust the people of Delhi had reposed in the AAP.
“I refuse to be drawn in this ugly battle. Will concentrate only on Delhi’s governance. I won’t let the people’s trust break at all,” he tweeted.
The chief minister’s statement came after a TV channel aired Prashant Bhushan’s interview on Tuesday, in which he said Kejriwal was prepared to make compromises and raised questions over the party’s process of accepting donations.
The deep factionalism in the party surfaced after letters from one camp questioned Kejriwal’s style of functioning and the absence of an internal ethics committee.
The hatchet might have been buried for now but the disquiet bubbling underneath in the party’s rank and file could resurface any time, an AAP leader said.
“The sticky point is expanding the party’s national footprint, but Kejriwal is not completely convinced with the idea. Yadav, Prashant, Shanti Bhushan and Admiral Ramdas (the party’s internal lokpal or ombudsman) are in favour of an expansion. This difference will not resolve on its own. Moreover, those who swear by the party’s constitution would not give up the issue of transparency very easily,” the leader added.
A decision on whether Yadav and Prashant Bhushan will remain in the party’s political affairs committee is expected at the national executive. Kejriwal will not be part of the session because of ill health.