AAP crisis: Kejriwal insisted on ouster of Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav from PAC
NEW DELHI: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal stamped his dominance over the party on Wednesday when two of his critics, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, were removed from the Political Affairs Committee, while his own offer of resignation as national convener of AAP was unanimously turned down.
While one chapter of the bitter feud in AAP might have ended now, it may not be the end of the story. The decision to remove Bhushan and Yadav wasn’t unanimous – in fact, as many as eight voted against it while 11 voted for – indicating that there are a number of people in the PAC who share some of the concerns raised by the Bhushan-Yadav duo.
Kejriwal himself stayed away from the meeting, possibly because of his poor health (he went to Bangalore for naturopathy treatment of his very high sugar levels), but more likely to make the point that he was above the squabbling lot – in other words, truly the first among the so-called equals.
Kejriwal also avoided engaging with the Bhushan-Yadav duo on any of the issues raised by them. Even last night the duo, or one of them, is learnt to have sought a one-on-one meeting with Kejriwal but there was no response to the overture. At the end, he apparently insisted on their removal from the PAC as a precondition for his staying as the National Convener. A fresh letter of resignation as national convener on Wednesday morning only reiterated his firm stand.
Before Wednesday’s PAC Meeting, there were serious efforts to sort to bring about a reconciliation between Kejriwal and the duo. Many options were considered, including one where the duo would offer some kind of apology. Most senior leaders found this reasonable as they also didn’t want the party’s unity to be affected in any way.
However, when the leaders reached Kejriwal, he insisted on the duo’s removal from PAC, indicating a rather quick graduation of AAP to hard-nosed power politics. Sources said that while many recognized that the issues raised by the duo were important and needed to be addressed, their presence in the PAC was untenable after the recent war of words.
At the meeting, Bhushan and Yadav suggested that the PAC be reconstituted, allowing new members to come in. This was, however, opposed by the Kejriwal loyalists, who insisted on a resolution seeking the removal of the duo. The resolution was moved by deputy CM Manish Sisodia and put to vote and the duo lost 11-8. Interestingly, some senior AAP leaders like Anand Kumar, Ajit Jha, Rakesh Sinha voted against their removal while Mumbai’s Mayank Gandhi and treasurer Krishnakant Sevada abstained.Sources said that considering that the resolution was backed by Kejriwal it was a democratic process of open voting that was followed without fear of recrimination. Yadav was also removed as the party’s chief spokesman.
Kejriwal loyalists criticised Bhushan and Yadav at the six-hour meeting for not showing confidence in the Delhi election team. They pointed out that this lack of confidence was despite the team crafting a stunning win for AAP in the election. The duo’s continuing criticism of the team only showed that they were out of synch with the popular mood, the loyalists said. Bhushan and Yadav also raised the need for an internal ethics committee that had also been mentioned in their note.
“There is a huge trust deficit between the two groups and it will take a while for it to be bridged, if it is bridged at all. In the last few days a lot of things have been said which have left everyone with a bad taste in the mouth. There was criticism from both sides with very little middle ground,” a senior leader said.