Expelled Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Vinod Kumar Binny has refuted talk that he is in touch with the Trinamool Congress and is likely to be the party’s candidate from the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat.
The buzz, however, refuses to die down, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party set to formally announce candidates for Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats at its Jantantra Rally at Ramlila Maidan on March 12.
The AAP’s stunning debut in the Delhi assembly polls in December last year and the subsequent Congress-aided rise to power for 49 days has coincided with an action-packed ride for Binny, 40.
He had defeated Delhi health minister AK Walia in Laxmi Nagar by around 8,000 votes and many saw a big role for him in the AAP government under Kejriwal.
That was not to be and the first cracks appeared early.
On December 24 last year, there was unease in sections of the AAP over Binny’s name not figuring in ministerial discussions. This unease came to light a day after the AAP staked claim to form the government in Delhi with outside support from the Congress.
Soon after, the firefighting began and the notes of dissent were played down — both by Binny and the AAP’s de facto chief, Arvind Kejriwal.
The relationship, however, soured quickly, with Binny describing Kejriwal as a dictator and alleging that the AAP had deviated from core issues.
Kejriwal did not take the criticism lying down. He said Binny had come to his house, seeking a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls from East Delhi. The seat is represented by Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, son of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
"We have already decided no sitting MLA will get ticket for the Lok Sabha elections," Kejriwal had said.
Binny hit back, saying he was not hungry for power and wanted to raise key issues in public interest.
On January 26, the AAP expelled Binny, who was once said to be the man behind the party’s Mohalla Sabha (neighbourhood meeting) strategy.
A day later, Binny started a hunger strike against the Kejriwal-led government, but called it off within three hours on “the advice of” social activist Anna Hazare.
With reports of him cosying up to the Trinamool refusing to die down, signs are that Binny roller-coaster journey continues.
A Delhi University graduate, Binny was a member of the Congress from 2009 to 2011 but left the party after joining the Jan Lokpal movement.
Hazare, who recently expressed support for Banerjee and her party, is apparently instrumental in bringing Binny close to the Trinamool, according to party sources privy to internal workings.
Incidentally, Hazare is slated to address the Trinamool’s Jantantra Rally with Banerjee.
Asked about the Trinamool and talk that he had met the party’s Rajya Sabha member and quizmaster Derek O’Brien last week, Binny said, “I have neither met Derek O’Brien nor any other Trinamool Congress member. I am not even considering joining the Trinamool Congress.”