1:08 am - Wednesday November 4, 2015

AAP infighting: Who will fill the space left vacant by Yadav-Bhushan camp?

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New Delhi: The churn within the Aam Aadmi Party, which resulted in the humiliating ouster of its four senior leaders, has altered the power hierarchy in the two-year-old political outfit. It was a nasty, no-holds-barred battle which saw Arvind Kejriwal stamping his command over the party through a band of loyal commanders.
Now that the rival camp has been decimated —whatever they do now, whether it’s legal action or using the party forums to continue the fight, does not matter much — there is a vacuum at the top rung of the leadership. So who is going to full this space left vacant by Bhushan and Yadav?
According to party sources, they are: Ashutosh, Ashish Khetan, Sanjay Singh, Pankaj Gupta and Kumar Vishwas.
“Ashutosh (journalist-turned-politician) is the biggest beneficiary of the AAP split. Soon after joining the party, he understood well the fact that he will have to go close to Arvind Kejriwal if he wants to hold a position in the party. He successfully entered into the party chief’s coterie of leaders. He got his first reward when he was made the party’s Delhi in charge. Now, he along with Ashish Khetan will be inducted in the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the supreme decision-making body of the party,” a party insider told Firstpost.
For standing firm with Kejriwal, he has another reward in waiting. “He will be sent to the Rajya Sabha,” he added. AAP’s 67-seat landslide victory will entitle it to three seats in the Upper House of Parliament from Delhi, but the party must wait for three long years before it can stake claim to these. For now, Congress MPs representing Delhi in RS will continue to serve their term.Earlier, Bhushan and Yadav were strong candidates for Rajya Sabha. In addition to Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amethi against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, may also be sent to the House of Elders.
Another AAP leader, who has hogged limelight, is the party’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta. Till Delhi assembly election, he was heading AAP’s ambitious initiative ‘Mission Vistaar’, but now he’s one of the three members in the recently constituted national disciplinary committee. The two others are Ashish Khetan and Dinesh Waghela. Besides, Gupta has been found in major decision-making bodies within the party and even addressing the media. By working silently for two years and remaining loyal to Kejriwal, even to the extent of ‘protecting those against whom Prashant Bhushan had asked for a probe’, he has strengthened his position in the party.
If AAP chooses to name a woman, actress Gul Panag and former banker Meera Sanyal, are likely to emerge as contenders. “Given the criticism AAP faced for not including any woman in the Delhi cabinet, the party can nominate Gul’s name. But there is no chance of Meera Sanyal ji as she has been sidelined,” said another leader, who is also an MLA.
Not only Sanyal, Atishi Marlena and Raghav Chaddha, who used to represent the party on different TV news channels, have suddenly disappeared. The party is planning to contest Uttar Pradesh assembly elections to be held in 2017. Sanjay Singh, who also enjoys close proximity to the Delhi chief minister, is visiting Lucknow to take stock of the situation in the state. And with him came AAP’s latest slogan, “Dilli mein dikhaya dum; ab UP mein aa gaye hum.”
However, the party said it is not in a rush because its “primary objective” is to ensure that only “committed people” gain entry into the party and that “opportunists” are kept at bay. “A final decision will be taken in this regard once the party establishes a strong political footing. But enters the fray, senior functionary Sanjay Singh will be its face,” he said.
Last but not least. Kejriwal would be g relieved after expulsion of the four senior leaders, who attached “more importance to processes rather than the outcome”. “With the latest series of incidents, Kejriwal has emerged as the supreme leader within the party. Now, he will take any decision as per his choice without any opposition,” said the leader adding that the sackings will also help him get clean chits.
“Admiral Ramdas, who was accused of supporting dissenting leaders, was removed as the party’s internal Lokpal and Prashant Bhushan from its national disciplinary committee. The new Lokpal will be the leadership’s favourite. If the sting audio tapes involving Kejriwal goes to him, he will easily get a clean chit,” he said.

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