By Ashima Makhija
In a politically charged environment, ignited by the Gujarat and Himachal assembly elections and the UP civic polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convened its sixth National Conference on 2nd November 2017 in Delhi. The AAP NCs are infamous for dramas and controversies that often reveal rivalries and incompetencies within the party. And this one was no different.
The shadows of internal turbulence
The objective of the meeting, that brought together founders, delegates and state in-charges from across the country, was to set the grounds for “bolstering” the party machinery. However, the meeting was overshadowed by the internal turbulence and the widening rift between party convener and Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal and senior leader, Kumar Vishwas.
It was for the first time that Vishwas, a national executive member and Rajasthan AAP in charge, known for his oratory skills, wasn’t in the role of moderator. Further, unlike his counterparts Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, Gopal Rai, and Ashutosh, Vishwas wasn’t even listed as a speaker. The founder members’ limited role in the most crucial event of the party confirmed his differences over revoking Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan’s suspension.
AAP’s Yearly Report: Achievements and Failures
The day-long event addressed nationwide members and assured them of developments but also raised a question on the public image that Aam Aadmi Party attempts to project and the fissures brewing within. Issues discussed at the meet included economic situation, problems faced by farmers, youth facing unemployment etc.
Senior party leader Sanjay Singh addressed the members on the economy. Manish Sisodia spoke on AAP’s landmarks achievements in education and healthcare sectors. He further contended that AAP’s anti-corruption drive played an important role in making business easier in India. Speaking of the upcoming Gujarat elections, senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said that the party would contest elections on 25 seats in the western state. He said the aim is to have capable people inside the Gujarat assembly who would raise the people’s issues.
Chief Minister Kejriwal gave the concluding remarks. On the same day as the Supreme Court began hearing the government’s challenge of the 2016 High Court ruling, which had held that Delhi is a union territory and the L-G its administrative head, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the AAP government had fulfilled its promises even with “zero power” — unlike the BJP-led Centre, which had “failed in every sector”.
Disagreements and blame games
After a string of defeats, especially after AAP’s poor performance in Punjab and Goa, the Rajouri Garden by-poll, and the drubbing in the civic body election, serious differences erupted between poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas and other party leaders. While most of the chiefs of AAP, with Mr Kejriwal at the forefront, attributed their humiliating defeat to “EVM tampering”, Vishwas asked AAP to reconsider its own format of politics and to re-think its policy formulation as well as electoral strategy. He criticised his own party for devising a complex blame game that involved allegations of the suppressive and dictatorial pursuits of the central government and the apparent partiality of the prestigious Election Commission.
Kumar’s emphasis on the need for AAP to introspect led to strong accusations from the party’s minority face, MLA Amanatullah Khan. He alleged that Kumar Vishwas was an “RSS-BJP Agent” and was planning a coup in AAP for the top post. This sparked an intense internal controversy and Kumar Vishwas was finally placated by suspending the Okhla MLA and by giving Vishwas charge of the Rajasthan-wing of AAP.
The recent revoking of Khan’s suspension has once again triggered an internal struggle in the party. Vishwas Kumar aired his differences over this decision on Monday which brought the controversy to the fore. Vishwas has alleged that some people in the party are trying to thwart his political career. “The revoking of Amanatullah Khan’s suspension is a clear indication that they do not want me to enter Rajya Sabha,” Vishwas said.
Where is AAP headed?
While the national conference was intended to chart the party’s strategy for the forthcoming elections and strengthen the party’s structure at the local, state and national level, the internal differences led to the evolution of pro-Vishwas and pro-Khan camps. The party’s stature has already suffered immensely due to the dismal performance in the state and civic polls of 2017 and now, party infighting has taken centre stage for AAP.
The party which was once viewed as a fresh breath of honesty and integrity in politics is stumbling in its own meaningless rhetoric and pointless efforts to hold together when its organisation is evidently crumbling.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius