Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) co-founder Shanti Bhushan’s questioning of party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s organisational skills and his role as the sole voice of the party could not have come at a worse time for the party.
Read: Two years on, a divided house: Shanti Bhushan attacks Kejri, AAP bleeds
It came on a day when the AAP kick-started its ambitious reach-out campaign to press for early elections in Delhi and reclaim what it once gave up for national ambitions.
Read: AAP defends Kejriwal after Shanti Bhushan questions his 'competence'
Even as AAP supporters led by senior leader Manish Sisodia gathered on east Delhi streets and raised slogans in support of elections in Delhi, the party went into a damage-control mode and began issuing statements that the senior lawyer was wrong.
But Bhushan’s remark seems to have touched the raw nerve of a section of party volunteers, even if those standing firm with Kejriwal admit it or not. A group of party volunteers, who recently formed the AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM), on Tuesday announced that they would protest at Jantar Mantar to ‘make sure there’s inner democracy in the party’. Bhushan had earlier come out in AVAM’s support.
HT Edit: Post Shanti Bhushan’s comment, AAP should call for introspection
Bhushan is not the first to question Kejriwal. Before him, people like Shazia Ilmi, once one of the brightest talents in the party, had quit citing similar reasons. Then there were others like Vinod Binny, the Laxmi Nagar MLA, and Karan Singh, once a go-to man for volunteer mobilisation, who were allegedly pushed out.
After the Lok Sabha drubbing — the party drew a blank in Delhi — AAP seems to be gaining some of its lost ground through relentless and numerous Mohalla Sabhas and street meetings. Through these meetings, the party claims, people will for the first time get to decide how MLAs should spend their development funds.
But Bhushan’s remark will certainly create doubts in the minds of at least a section of the 4,000-strong active AAP volunteers, that too at a time when the party badly needs their undivided support in reaching out to 35 lakh households in Delhi within 15 days to get them to support fresh elections in Delhi.
The Capital has been without a government ever since Kejriwal quit as chief minister in February this year. His move, essentially aimed at fighting Lok Sabha elections, has already faced much criticism.
The latest salvo against the AAP leader may or may not affect the party’s electoral fortunes, but it has, for now, given the much-needed fodder to the BJP and Congress as well as to those who have quit the party.
AAP convener is power hungry: BJP
Reacting to the questions raised by Shanti Bhushan on the ability of Arvind Kejriwal as a political leader, the BJP Delhi Pradesh President Satish Upadhyay said that the AAP leader lacks political leadership and is power hungry.
“There is a great difference between what he preaches and practices. He wants to portray himself as a selfless person but in reality he is power hungry. Recently two Congress legislators had revealed that the AAP-Cong alliance could have been revived had Kejriwal allowed Manish Sisodia to become the chief minister,” said Upadhyay. HTC
Kejri enacting drama for BJP: Cong
The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on Wednesday said that AAP’s founder member Shanti Bhushan had only reiterated what the party had been saying for long about Arvind Kejriwal.
“What he has said about Kejriwal is absolutely true. Kejriwal is a dictator who is just hungry for power,” said senior Congress leader and chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma.
DPCC president Arvinder Singh said that the AAP chief is ‘enacting the drama of people-interaction’ to divide the secular vote and make it easier for the BJP to come to power in Delhi. HTC