All is not well with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. From growing dissent in the party to its leaders facing the heat over various issues, the party, which originated as an anti-corruption movement, seems to be losing ground just at the time when it is about to make its debut on the national stage. If the recent developments are any indication, the party, which was perceived to be different and cashed it in this perception initially, seems to be no different from its counterparts.
On Tuesday, AAP leader Shazia Ilmi refused to contest from Rae Bareli fuelling speculations of growing dissent in the party over ticket distribution.
On the same day, educationist and child rights lawyer Ashok Agarwal resigned from the AAP, saying the party has become ‘directionless’ and that it was promoting “elite individuals.” In his letter to Kejriwal, Agarwal stressed that the party was losing its vision. The resignation on such grounds not only discredited the party but also its leadership.
With each passing day, the party, created for providing a political alternative is beginning to look like any other party.
There are strong factors for party’s imminent downfall. Here are a few recent instances when Aam Aadmi Party found itself on a slippery ground.
1. TUSSLE OVER TICKET: AAP leader Shazia Ilmi expressed her displeasure over party’s offer to contest from Rae Bareli saying that she ‘never agreed’ to contest against Sonia Gandhi. Ilmi expressed her willingness to fight from Delhi. “I am not contesting from Rae Bareli. I never agreed to nor do I now… I’ve been denying this for the last two months,” she tweeted. Reports also surfaced about Kumar Vishwas’ rift with the party over ticket distribution. However, both leaders denied reports, saying they were not upset with the party.
2. AGARWAL UPSET WITH AAP: In a jolt to the party, national executive member of AAP and eminent educationist Ashok Agarwal resigned from the party saying it worked like a “private limited company” with an aim to promote “elite individuals.” In a strongly-worded letter to party leader Arvind Kejriwal, Agarwal pointed that the movement has become ‘directionless’ and objectives for which AAP was created are getting lost. Agarwal, who is also a child rights lawyer, cited AAP’s contentious Lok Sabha ticket distribution, as the main reason of his resignation.
3. SAVITA OPTS OUT OF RACE: Savita Bhatti, widow of actor and satirist Jaspal Bhatti and AAP’s candidate from Chandigarh, opted out of Lok Sabha elections saying she was ‘not interested’ in contesting polls. Savita was believed to have had differences with the local AAP unit.
4. INFLUENCING PORTRAYAL: In yet another incident that left the Aam Aadmi Party red-faced, footage of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘off the record’ interaction with a TV anchor went viral on the internet. The footage seemed to show Kejriwal seeking to influence his portrayal in the interview. He was seen asking the anchor to play down a certain segment of their interview. While the leaked video drew sharp criticism from the political leaders, it also raised questions about Kejriwal’s stand on privatisation.
5. AAP MEN SPAR WITH KEJRIWAL: Upset over the distribution of tickets in the party, a group of disgruntled AAP party workers staged a protest outside Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. A group of around 20 AAP workers shouted slogans against the selection of some AAP candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and accused the party leadership of being inaccessible. They complained that the AAP does not implement what it preaches. The AAP workers also questioned party’s Chandi Chowk candidate Ashutosh and East Delhi candidate Rajmohan Gandhi for “parachuting” in these constituencies.
6. INK ATTACK ON AAP LEADER: An AAP member from Shalimar Bagh smeared blue ink on senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav’s face during a party event to celebrate International Women’s Day at Jantar Mantar. The man identified as Sagar Bhandari was angry with the fact that he wanted to speak to Yadav but since no one paid attention, he was not happy. The incident yet again reflected the growing grudges among the party workers.
7. AAP WORKERS TURN VIOLENT: In retaliation to protests against Kejriwal’s brief “detention” in Gujarat, the AAP workers clashed with BJP activists outside the saffron party headquarters in Delhi and Lucknow. AAP workers had stormed the BJP head office on Ashoka Road in central Delhi protesting against Kejriwal’s ‘detention’ in Radhanpur in North Gujarat where he has gone to “assess” the development claims made by CM Narendra Modi. The AAP leadership was yet again caught on a sticky wicket as prominent AAP leaders Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi were seen during the clashes. Moreover, the action by AAP workers stood in contrast to the party’s ideologies of promoting non-violence.
8. KEJRIWAL’S PLANE CONTROVERSY: Arvind Kejriwal was caught on the wrong foot as he took a plane from Jaipur to Delhi to attend a conclave. As his rivals attacked him, Kejriwal said a media group arranged for the aircraft as they wanted him to attend the event. Interestingly, Kejriwal has been attacking major political leaders for using chartered aircraft of corporates for reaching the rally venues.