Four senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders on Tuesday issued a statement accusing dissidents Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan of trying to defeat the party in the recent Delhi assembly elections.
The statement issued by Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Pankaj Gupta and Sanjay Singh said Bhushan told volunteers that the AAP should lose the Delhi polls by getting around 20-22 seats so that the party leadership could be changed.
While the statement has been issued by these four leaders, AAP's official email id has been used to send it to journalists. Yadav and Bhushan are still members of the party.
Bhushan had stopped workers from other states from campaigning in Delhi and also tried to stop donations from coming in, the statement said.
The four AAP leaders accused Yadav of planting news stories and speaking off the record with journalists to ruin the party's image.
Yogendra Yadav planted negative news stories to damage #AAP, spoke off the record with scribes to ruin Kejriwal's image: AAP statement— Darpan Singh (@darpans) March 10, 2015
They also alleged that AVAM -- the breakaway group which raised allegations of bogus funding against AAP -- was run by the BJP and that Prashant and his father and another founder member Shanti Bhushan openly supported it.
"While volunteers were working hard in the field prior to the Delhi elections, three leaders ( Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav) were making efforts to make the party lose," the statement said.
In his reaction, Sanjay Singh said his party had to issue a statement as efforts were being made to create an impression that it had taken a biased decision.
"We all were deeply saddened to know that Prashant ji wanted us to lose Delhi polls, he mentioned this to many people in party," Singh said.
"The atmosphere that was being created in past 3-4 days was sending a negative message," he said.
Shortly afterwards, Prashant Bhushan hit back saying the statement was to target both him and Yadav. " Earlier they got smaller leaders to do it. Now the PAC is coming out with the same false allegations," Bhushan told Hindustan Times.
"The truth must be brought before the nation," he said adding that he will release a written press release in a couple of days replying to all the allegations.
Yogendra Yadav tweeted that the statement welcomed the possibilty of an "open, transaprent" dialogue.
Hope this statement ends all slander, planting of allegations. Hope no more coercion of party functionaries and Delhi MLAs on this issue.— Yogendra Yadav (@AapYogendra) March 10, 2015
This is the first major offensive by the Arvind Kejriwal camp ever since the two dissenting leaders were removed from the AAP's political affairs committee, the party's apex decision-making body, last week.
Earlier, two other Kejriwal camp members, parliamentarian Bhagwant Mann and Maharashtra leader Anjali Damania, had demanded their removal from the party, saying they conspired with the BJP to defeat the party in the Delhi polls.
The statement also said the party has been forced to make public the reasons for their removal after statements by the Bhushan camp members to the media created the impression that the decision was wrong.
So far the reasons for the disciplinary action against Bhushan and Yadav were not made public to protect their image, the four AAP leaders said.
Founder members Bhushan, a leading Supreme Court lawyer, and Yadav, a political expert, were removed from the PAC after a stormy meeting of the party's national executive last Wednesday after they questioned the rookie party's 'one-person centric campaign' in the national capital -- a veiled dig at Delhi CM Kejriwal.