By Ashima Makhija
Right after a colossal defeat in its stronghold Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party is facing yet another crisis. The party’s minority face, Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan has recently challenged the commitment of Kumar Vishwas, one of the founding leaders of AAP, to the party. He alleged that Kumar Vishwas was an ‘RSS-BJP Agent’ and was planning a coup in AAP for the top post. Such strong comments sparked intense outrage among the party leadership, instantly. On Wednesday, during the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), a compromise was reached to placate Vishwas. The party averted another internal crisis by suspending the Okhla MLA and giving Vishwas charge of the Rajasthan-wing of AAP.
Khan versus Vishwas?
After the party’s dismal performance in the MCD elections, several conflicting voices had emerged. Kumar Vishwas had refused to attribute AAP’s poll upsets to the manipulation of the EVMs, as suggested by party leaders like Arvind Kejriwal. He instead stressed on the need to introspect.
The strong allegations of Khan followed Kumar’s slugfest party. “Kumar Vishwas is trying to usurp and break the AAP. He is calling MLAs to his residence and saying that he should be made the party convener. Or else, they (MLAs) can join the BJP which is ready to pay Rs 30 crore to each MLA,” said Khan on Sunday. He also said that BJP was using its MLAs to take AAP legislators to Kumar Vishwas.
An unsettling truce
After Khan’s allegations on Sunday, both leaders started raising opinions against each other on public forums. This deeply disturbed the party leadership. The Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia said that such developments were denting the party’s image and affecting the morale of volunteers. On Monday, Amanatullah was forced to resign from the PAC while Vishwas decided to skip the meeting. On Tuesday, Vishwas plunged the party into deeper concern by expressing anger over the fact that Khan had not yet been expelled from the party and flashing threats of leaving the party.
Finally, AAP managed to pacify the vocal and defiant Kumar Vishwas at the subsequent PAC meeting on Wednesday, which lasted for three long hours. The PAC, led by Kejriwal, has now decided to set up an inquiry committee to look into the allegations by Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan against Vishwas. Khan has been suspended from the party till the inquiry concludes.
Also, Vishwas, who has been harping on the fact that he was not after any position in the party, will now be building the organisation in Rajasthan, which goes into polls next year.
The media was greeted by ‘A reunited AAP’ after the PAC meeting on 3rd May. Kumar Vishwas said that discussions and constructive dialogues held on that day were a necessity. “I assure you on behalf of the party that whenever course correction is required, we will sit together, agreeing and disagreeing with each other,” he added.
Kejriwal had shown his early support for Kumar with his tweet: “Kumar is my younger brother. Some people are trying to create a rift between us. Such people are enemies of the party. They better mend their ways. No one can separate us.”
After a string of electoral defeats, such internal instability in AAP can hamper its future prospects. As expressed in the concerns of the party leadership, such episodes of internal strife have an adverse impact on public support and opinion. Detractors also claim that Rajasthan is a consolation prize for Kumar and the suspension of Khan is temporary. Thus, even though such delicate settlements may portray the party’s position in a positive light for the time being, much broader reforms are required for a truly ‘United AAP’.
Featured Image Credits: Hindustan Times