Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is being torn apart as the battle for the control of the party escalated today with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal terming it as an “ugly battle”, while his camp launched an all out attack on senior leaders Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, accusing them of wanting to have a “vice-like grip” on the party.
Breaking his silence for the first time on the issue, Arvind Kejriwal said he was “hurt and pained” by what was going on within the outfit as all this has “betrayed” the trust imposed by the people.
Arvind Kejriwal, who is the party’s national convener, said he refuses to be drawn into this “ugly battle” and will concentrate on Delhi’s governance.
On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal’s camp launched an all out attack on the Bhushans.
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Ashish Khetan, a key member of the AAP’s Delhi unit, accused party patron Shanti Bhushan and his son and daughter — Prashant and Shalini — of wanting to control all the wings of the party.
“Those who are floating the ridiculous one man party theory wanted to make AAP one family party,” Khetan said on twitter.
“Father son daughter trio of Shanti, Prashant & Shalini (sic) wanted to have a vice-like grip on all party wings, from PAC to policy committee to National Executive,” he further said.
Ashutosh, another party leader close to Arvind Kejriwal, said Prashant Bhushan should have raised his issues at the NE meeting and not before the media.
Shanti Bhushan, a founder member, sought to play down the rift, asking both Prashant and Yadav to support Arvind Kejriwal.
“Differences within the party are not good. Prashant and Yogendra(Yadav) should support Arvind (Kejriwal),” he said in a letter to the party’s national executive.
Sharp differences have come to the fore within AAP with allegations that Prashant and Yadav were trying to “remove” Kejriwal from the post of party convener.
AAP has convened a meeting of its national executive tomorrow to decide on all issues, including the latest controversy over differences in the party. Sources said a proposal may be mooted in the NE meet to remove Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav tomorrow.
Sources added that Kejriwal is unlikely to attend the meeting tomorrow.
Sources said Kejriwal will leave for Bengaluru for naturopathy treatment for a period of 10 days, starting March 5.
In the midst of the war of words, Yadav said he along with Prashant have always maintained that Kejriwal should lead the party.
Asked about speculation that they may be shown the door at tomorrow’s meeting, Yadav told PTI, “I and Prashant have always given a standing offer to quit the PAC so that new blood, having representation of gender and region, could be brought in”.
On his part, Prashant denied that he was considering quitting the party.
“I am not considering leaving the party. My role in the party is to try and ensure it follows its founding principles and ideals.”
“If we are removed, it is of no consequence,” he said.
“The moment I feel the party is irretrievably on the path of any other party following the high command culture, not having transparency, I will have no option but to leave the party,” he said.
Meanhwile, attacking Shanti Bhushan, Ashutosh demanded that the party patron should explain the “conspiracy” to replace Kejriwal by Yadav.
“Shanti Bhushanji should also explain what was the conspiracy to replace Arvind with Yogendra ? Did it not tarnish the image of party ? Shanti Bhushanji should explain why did he say Arvind to be replaced with Yogendra during elections and after NE meet. That is indiscipline,” Ashutosh tweeted.
In his letter, Prashant recalled that at last week’s national executive meeting, he had accused the party of running a “one person-centric” campaign revolving around Kejriwal during the Delhi elections contrary to its principles.
Prashant said such campaign was making the party look like other conventional parties and had called for more “swaraj” within the organisation.
“…one person-centric campaign, which was run during Delhi elections, is making our party look more and more like other conventional parties that are also one- person centric.
he only difference being that we still claim that we are wedded to the principles of ‘swaraj’ while they don’t,” he said.
Along with Prashant, Yadav also gave a joint letter to the national executive and demanded activation of an ethics and grievance committee.
Reacting to it, the Delhi unit, a group that swears allegiance to Kejriwal, too has come out strongly against Prashant and Yadav.
In a letter to party secretary Pankaj Gupta, Delhi unit secretary Dilip Pandey termed it not a personality clash but a clash between a leader and a “bunch of opportunists”. Sources close to Yadav have rejected the claims made by the Delhi unit.