The infighting in the Aaam Admi Party seems not ending just with the suspension of Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan as hours after he was suspended from the party Delhi Deputy Chief Minister went to his residence to meet him.
Confirming the development, Khan said Sisodia had come to his residence to meet him, but did not reveal the purpose of the deputy chief minister's visit. The meet could again upset senior party leader Kumar Vishwas, who was made new in-charge of Rajasthan.
Earlier, Vishwas had threatened to quit the party over attacks on him by a “coterie” surrounding the Delhi Chief Minister.
Kejriwal had called a PAC meeting on Wednesday at his residence, where Vishwas was also present. However, the rift in AAP was reportedly unresolved even as Kejriwal met Vishwas and appears to have pacified the latter. A section of AAP MLAs also held a separate meeting with Vishwas early on Wednesday but details were not immediately available.
A teary-eyed 46-year-old AAP leader said he "will take a decision tonight (Tuesday night)."
The AAP sent senior leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh in order to pacify Vishwas. Late Tuesday night, Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia met Vishwas at his residence in Ghaziabad.
"Kumar Vishwas is inherent part of our movement...he is upset, but I'm hopeful that we will be able to convince him," Kejriwal said after meeting at his Ghaziabad home on Tuesday.
Rumours about the growing proximity of Vishwas to the BJP has swirled ever since he had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few years ago. However, he has denied any plan to join BJP or any other party. Bringing up his praise of PM Modi, he said on Tuesday that he felt no need to apologise for it.
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The AAP had earlier fielded Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to contain the damage who retaliated against Vishwas saying people were aware that his comments would help a “particular party”.
The flurry of developments, a day after Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan resigned from the party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) over a spat with Vishwas, plunged the poll-battered party into turmoil, almost reminiscent of the 2015 bitter public spat involving then AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.
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Amid murmurs that he wants to head the party, poet-turned-politician Vishwas, earlier in the day, said he harboured no ambitions to become chief minister, deputy chief minister or AAP national convener.
Several MLAs too are in favour of a greater role for Vishwas in the AAP after the party’s poor show in the Punjab Assembly and MCD polls.
They also expressed their displeasure over the “coterie” surrounding Kejriwal, as claimed by Vishwas, but pledged their loyalty towards the Aam Aadmi Party chief.
“I have conveyed this to Arvind, Manish (Sisodia) and I reiterate it today that I do not want to become chief minister, deputy chief minister or AAP’s national convener.
“I do not want to join any political party or Swaraj India (political party founded by expelled AAP leader Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan). I do not know what you want to do, but I do not want to do this,” Vishwas told reporters outside his Ghaziabad residence as he turned emotional.
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The AAP leader was particularly upset with Khan who had alleged on Sunday that the former was plotting a coup against Kejriwal and that he was an “RSS-BJP agent”.
“Had Amanatullah Khan said anything like this against Arvind or Manish, he would have been shown the door in 10 minutes,” Vishwas said, adding that he, along with Kejriwal and Sisodia had dreamt of an anti-corruption movement, which later became a political party.
He said Khan was merely a “mask” behind the “coterie” hatching conspiracies against him.
“A lot of tarnishing of image will take place. Let me tell those hatching conspiracies that I will not let this happen. I will take a decision in a day,” Vishwas said.
Kejriwal had sought to quell rumours of a rift with Vishwas by referring to him as his “younger brother”.
Vishwas had differed with Kejriwal on the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs). He had refused to attribute the AAP’s recent poll upsets to alleged manipulation of voting machines and had instead stressed on the need to introspect.
He had pointed out the “communication gap” between party leadership and volunteers after a string of electoral defeats in the past few months.
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“I thought after six electoral defeats, I had pointed out the right reason for the debacle. The coterie was responsible (for the defeats) which was behind ticket distribution, the one who engineered the statements (given by Khan). The morale of our volunteers has taken a hit,” Vishwas said, adding that several of them had left their jobs for the party.
Vishwas appeared defiant despite the party’s gag order of not ventilating grievances before the media and said he will keep highlighting the mistakes of the AAP and state what was right in the interest of the country.
“If by raising voice in favour of the nation my party gets upset, even then I will keep on raising these issues,” Vishwas said.
He had also differed with Kejriwal over the controversy after the surgical strike and said it could have been avoided. The BJP had accused Kejriwal of demanding proof for the strike last year.
“When the morale of our forces fighting terrorism were down and we raised questions. In that case, we need to do course correction,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)