Differences in AAP threaten to split leadership

NEW DELHI: The Aam Admi Party (AAP) was plunged into a fresh crisis as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tendered his resignation as the party’s national convener in a response to two party seniors Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav publicly airing their dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Mr. Kejriwal had offered to quit at an earlier meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) on February 26 but the resignation was rejected unanimously. He sent a handwritten resignation letter to the AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta on Wednesday morning ahead of the party’s national executive committee meeting. On Tuesday night, the AAP chief had tweeted that he was hurt and pained by the ugly battle in the party.

Even as last-minute efforts were being made to avert the crisis, Mr. Kejriwal was making arrangements to leave for Bengaluru for naturopathy treatment of his persistent cough and other minor ailments. He is likely to be away for ten days during which Mr. Manish Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister, will serve as acting CM.

Kejriwal may keep away from national executive meet

This effectively means that Mr. Kejriwal may not attend the national executive meeting at which the fate of Mr. Yogendra Yadav and Mr. Prashant Bhushan will be decided. Meanwhile, the duo has offered to opt out of the party’s Political Affairs Committee. In a letter to the national executive on February 26, Mr. Bhushan had slammed Mr. Kejriwal for overturning the collective decisions of the party.

 He accused the party of seeking the Congress’ support for forming the government in Delhi after its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. He also said that the one-man centric election campaign during the Delhi elections made AAP look like any other conventional party.

On the other hand, the duo was accused of trying to remove Mr. Kejriwal as AAP convenor though the Delhi Chief Minister enjoys full majority in the national executive. Their rivals also released excerpts of a telephonic conversation in which Mr. Bhushan was alleged to have said that he wanted AAP’s tally in the Delhi Assembly to be reduced to 22. The party went on to win 67 out of the 70 seats in last month’s elections.

In another development,  AAP leader Ashish Khetan tweeted regretting having commented about Mr. Bhushan and his father, Mr. Shanti Bhushan in public. “I should not have commented about Bhushans in public. We’ve fought for many public causes together and will hopefully continue to work as a team” he tweeted.

Whether the internecine battle will lead to a split in the core leadership of the fledgling party will hinge on whether Mr. Kejriwal’s supporters throw out Mr. Yadav and Mr. Bhushan or seek to bury the hatchet.

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