Differences within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are out in the open, with two founding members publicly expressing displeasure over ticket distribution in the 19-month-old outfit gearing up for its Lok Sabha poll debut.
India’s youngest party has faced rebellion at a number of places but the grouse is common — new recruits getting priority over “old hands”. Questions have also been raised about some controversial names finding way into the list of candidates. AAP has so far named 187 candidates for the 543 Lok Sabha seats.
While Kumar Vishwas took a swipe at “dirty water” flowing into “clean river”, Shazia Ilmi refused to be pitted against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli even after the party brass’ insistence. AAP was borne out of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption stir of which Vishwas and Ilmi were a part.
Party chief Arvind Kejrwal’s tweet on Tuesday that talked about “forces realigning after my attack on Modi” and “relationship getting redefined” added another twist to the simmering discontent.
In the past, Kumar has praised BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, who has come in for severe criticism from Kejriwal.
Vishwas, who will take on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, tweeted on Monday, “If dirty water falls into a clean river, devotees would be scared to take bath.” The poet-turned-politician, said party sources, was extremely unhappy with newcomers being picked to fight elections.
He also warned the party against fielding controversial figures. While he could not be reached for comments, he told some news channels, “Yes I had certain issues with the party and I have passed them on the Arvind, and Manish Sisodia.”
Ilmi is upset over not being fielded from the Capital. “I’m not contesting from Rae Bareilly(sic)...I never agreed to nor do I now...i have been denying this for last two months,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Talking to reporters, she denied there was rift in the party, but conceded she wanted to contest from Delhi, and not from Uttar Pradesh, where she would be an outsider. She was keen on New Delhi seat but the party named investigative journalist Aashish Khetan, who was not even an AAP member, party sources said.
The party had to face protests when it fielded Ashutosh, a former journalist, from Chandni Chowk within days of him joining AAP.