Another day, another row hits Kejriwal’s AAP as EC seeks ouster of 20 MLAs
Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party is certainly not new to controversies. From internal rifts, to friction with the Lieutenant Governor (L-G), or expulsion of party’s veteran leaders like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, or corruption charges against its ministers, the AAP has almost constantly been embroiled in crisis since its inception in 2012.
Just as the criticism over its Rajya Sabha picks began to settle down, Delhi’s ruling party on Friday received a jolt with Election Commission of India on Friday recommending disqualification of 20 lawmakers for allegedly holding ‘offices of profit’.
As it has done in the majority of its controversies, the AAP on Friday blamed the BJP government for hatching a conspiracy against its government. “This is not the first time that they (BJP) have tried to derail our government,” said AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj.
Apart from enjoying the thumping majority in the Delhi Assembly with 66 seats, the AAP, five years from its inception, is in the Opposition in Punjab Assembly where it also has won four seats in the Lok Sabha. Besides, the party will also have three members in the Rajya Sabha after the term of the three Delhi incumbent ends.
For AAP’s sacked leader Yogendra Yadav, the ‘office of profit’ issue is the result of “arrogance” shown by party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
“On the face of this is nothing more than a technical infringement. This is not a case of corruption. It is foolishness. If you go one step deeper, it is arrogance. It is the consequence of the deep insecurity on the part of chief minister. The parliamentary secretary thing happened soon after Prashant (Bhushan) and I were kicked out. His fear was that MLAs would walk away with us,” Yadav said.
A rocky start
The AAP’s first brush with controversy took place in 2014, before the party’s Delhi government assumed office. Party’s founder member Kumar Vishwas and his wife were summoned by Delhi Commission for Woman after a female volunteer from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh had alleged that Vishwas did nothing to dispel the rumours about an alleged relationship between the two. Vishwas had unsuccessfully contested against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in 2014 general elections.
A few weeks after coming to power in Delhi the second time, AAP’s founding-members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were sacked from the party in April 2015 after they questioned Kejriwal’s style of functioning. In June 2015, the then law minister Jitender Singh Tomar resigned over his alleged fake graduation degree. A few months later, Delhi’s food and civil supplies minister Asim Ahmed Khan resigned over corruption charges followed by sacking of Sandeep Kumar, the minister for women and child development, over an alleged explicit CD.
The party’s national ambitions received a setback during Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa in 2017 when it lost both states. In Delhi, meanwhile, AAP was defeated by BJP in the 2017 municipal polls. Winning the Bawana by-poll in August, brought some confidence back in the party.
At the end of last year, an internal rift in the party was thrown in the open with Kumar Vishwas openly calling out the national leadership for drifting away from its vision. Amid the controversy, in the first week of 2018, the party’s decision to send businessman Sushil Gupta, chartered accountant ND Gupta along with Sanjay Singh to the Rajya Sabha invited criticism.
Should the President follow up on the EC’s recommendation, it would mean by-polls on 20 seats in Delhi which would provide an opportunity for the BJP and the Congress to test waters a third time in last five years.