Already under severe strain owing to infighting and embarrassing revelations about its ministers, including the ‘fake’ degree controversy involving its former law minister Jitendra Singh Tomar, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has now suffered a body blow in Bihar.
A slew of its top leaders in Bihar have broken away from AAP to form a new party -- christened Aam Aadmi (United), to pursue the immediate goal of registering their presence in the Bihar assembly poll due in the next three months.
The decision to form a new party was taken during a meeting in Patna late on Sunday, also attended by leaders who participated in or oversaw AAP’s May 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign in Bihar.
“In taking this call, we were guided by grave departures from professed principles of AAP and by unethical practices that have overtaken the party,” said Basant Kumar Chaudhary, who has been made convenor of the newly formed AAU.
He said the new party had been floated with the objective of “presenting to the voters of Bihar a viable political alternative to the worn out, irrelevant politics of (RJD leader) Lalu Prasad, JD (U)’s Nitish Kumar and (PM) Narendra Modi (of the BJP)”.
“By articulating the interest of the common man, which no other party is doing, we hope to provide a forceful political punch in the coming election,” said Chaudhary, earlier convenor of AAP’s Bihar state campaign committee for 2014 Lok Sabha poll.
Chaudhary declared AAU would contest many, if not all, of the 243 Bihar assembly seats, a “risk”, he said, neither AAP national convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal nor the rival Yogendra Yadav-Prashant Bhushan duo, ousted from AAP, wanted to take.
Among those who joined him in forming the new political outfit were convenors of two of the four regional committees running AAP in Bihar -– Nand Kumar Azad (Mithila zonal committee) and Arif Raza Masumi (Magadh zone).
Since AAP came into existence, it was being run by four regional committees as a state committee for Bihar was never constituted.
There was no immediate word on the political affiliation of convenors of AAP’s remaining two regional committees for Bhagalpur-Munger and north Bihar zones.
Among others who switched their loyalties to the new party were three of AAP’s 2014 Lok Sabha poll nominees -- Kishori Das (Sitamarhi), Tiliya Devi (Jhanjharpur) and Vinod Das (Jamui).
AAP had contested all but one out of total 40 seats in Bihar in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll only to end up winning none. In the process, each of its 39 candidates lost their security deposits. The party polled less than 1% of the total votes cast.