Kejriwal may have ended crisis with temporary truce but AAP turmoil not over
The AAP has managed to retain ‘rebel’ Kumar Vishwas for now, but detractors say all is not well within. While Vishwas has been given a consolation prize in the form of party post, Kejriwal loyalist Amanatullah Khan’s suspension from party is only temporary.Updated: May 07, 2017 12:44 IST
If the picture released by the Aam Aadmi Party on Wednesday after its crucial Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting is anything to go by, then tough times are here to stay for its convener Arvind Kejriwal.
In the picture, the Kejriwal coterie, with his second-in-command Manish Sisodia and leaders like Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh, Gopal Rai and Atishi Marlena, is seen happily sticking together, whereas, poet-politician Kumar Vishwas angles out and gives a rather business-not-yet-over expression. Waiting for a bigger role in the party since its inception in 2012, a go-getter Vishwas, after sparring with the top leadership for over five day, was finally made the in-charge of AAP’s Rajasthan unit on Wednesday.
But detractors claim the role is only a consolation prize. Rajasthan goes to poll next year, but the party, post its Delhi municipal, Punjab and Goa polls drubbing is first faced with the task of re-structuring itself. “Preparations for Punjab had begun in full swing after the party won four seats from the state in the 2014 general elections. With almost three years of preparation, a rookie party like ours, still managed to become the principal opposition in Punjab in 2017. Similarly, for Rajasthan, the plan is to make our presence felt strongly. Creating hype about winning elections is unnecessary,” a party leader said on condition of anonymity.
Kumar Vishwas vs Amanatullah Khan
While a miffed Vishwas and Kejriwal’s personal attempt to pacify him hogged all the limelight in the last two days, AAP workers, on the other hand, are trying to solve the curious case of Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan.
The party’s minority face, Khan, had alleged that Vishwas was an “RSS agent” and that he was planning a coup in AAP for the top post. Vishwas, who already had begun speaking extensively to the media on how the party needed to introspect on its MCD polls debacle instead of blaming the EVMs, wanted Khan to be removed from the party.
Following this, Khan himself resigned from the PAC and a day later was ‘suspended’ by the party. It is here that, Kejriwal and Co. acted like typical politicians — the type they have detested all along. Suspension will only temporarily keep him away from party affairs, and setting up a disciplinary committee will give Khan a fair chance of being heard.
Interestingly, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia personally went to Khan’s residence in Jamia Nagar to “convey the PAC’s action against him.” Perhaps, no AAP leader against whom the party took an action has got such a treatment.
‘Code of loyalty’
Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, who along with senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan was expelled from the AAP, told HT that for Kejriwal it’s all about the “code of loyalty.” “I can give you an outsiders’ view on this, but I can tell you for sure that Amanatullah is not going anywhere. The leadership is just waiting until it wins back substantial dissidents on its side. They will take him back after that,” he said.
Yadav recalled how Khan had gained entry to the party by owning up to the inflammatory communal posters put up by Kejriwal in parts of the city. “He took the blame on himself and went to the police station on behalf of Kejriwal. So, he falls within Kejriwal’s code of loyalty, whereas, Vishwas has broken it. Immediately after the poll defeat, they want to show a united front. The leadership is just waiting for the right time,” Yadav said.
Political problems for ‘anti-politics’ party
If there was one thing that appealed to everyone about this party right from its first Assembly election in 2013, it was their promise of “alternative politics.”
But three years down the line, the AAP is seen doing everything that makes them just like the other political parties. Despite a series of ugly infighting which saw prominent leaders like Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Shazia Ilmi eventually leaving the party, and the recent rift with Vishwas, Kejriwal still doesn’t seem to have learnt his lesson.
“The party is evolving and a section of workers feel that power needs to be given to more than one person. Kejriwal is our face, but in the long-run there have to be other stalwarts too,” said a party worker in AAP’s office at Rouse Avenue.