By Yash Shukla
Sidelining a senior party leader and founding member of Aam Aadmi Party, Kumar Vishwas, Delhi Chief Minister and National Convener of the ruling party AAP, Arvind Kejriwal gave Rajya Sabha tickets to two new faces in the party. After losing the Delhi municipal elections to the opposition party BJP last year, Kejriwal has been conspicuous by his absence from media controversies and restrained approach towards the opposition BJP. However, the lull inside the party now seems to be giving way to the uproar caused by the refusal of the Rajya Sabha tickets to Kumar Vishwas and Ashutosh, who has also been a trusted lieutenant of Kejriwal. Ashutosh and Kumar Vishwas were in the front race for the Rajya Sabha tickets as the ruling party has a brute majority in the 70-member Delhi legislative assembly and is also expected to bag all the three seats in the elections.
An equal and opposite reaction to the action
Kumar Vishwas has also openly revolted against Arvind Kejriwal, alleging that leaders who speak against the wrongdoings in the party and dare to go against the decisions of Kejriwal are sidelined. Vishwas came openly against Kejriwal and said, “Maine jo jo sach bola aaj uska puruskar dand swaroop mujhe diya gaya. Arvind ne mujhe muskurate huye kaha tha ke ‘sir ji aapko marenge par shaheed nahi hone denge’ main unko badhai deta hu ke main apni shahadat sweekar karta hu,” Vishwas was quoted as saying so by ANI Network. (I have been ‘rewarded’ today for speaking the truth. Arvind once told me smilingly, ‘Sir, you will be killed but we won’t let you become a martyr’. I congratulate him and accept my martyrdom.)
A history of autocracy
It is not the first time that Kejriwal has been accused of being autocratic and brooking no opposition to his decisions inside the party. Earlier as well, founding members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were expelled from the party. The leaders then had said that they were expelled as they had gone against the autocratic decisions of Kejriwal and had also raised their voices against the wrongdoings inside the party regarding the ticket-distribution and party positions. Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were also a part of ‘India against Corruption’ – a movement, led by Anna Hazare, which aimed to fight corruption. Then also, critics of Kejriwal had raised fingers at him for expelling leaders who had been with him from the beginning and had played a significant role in establishing the party and writing its constitution.
Why were the tickets denied?
Ashutosh, however, has not said anything against the decision taken by Delhi Chief Minister. According to sources, Vishwas had lost the confidence of Kejriwal when around six months back; he was accused of splitting the party and colluding with BJP. According to sources, Kejriwal is reported to possess some recordings of Vishwas abetting other party MLAs to desert Kejriwal. Kejriwal, instead of taking a knee-jerk reaction, seems to have now come to teach a lesson to leaders like Vishwas.
However, choosing two new faces instead of known faces has certainly shocked the party leaders. The three members who have been given tickets for the Rajya Sabha polls are senior party leaders: Sanjay Singh, Sushil Gupta, and Narain Das Gupta. As far as Sanjay Singh is concerned, he was also the party in-charge of Punjab during the assembly elections. However, the two other members who have been given tickets were not even known by the party leaders. Sushil Gupta is a businessman and had fought 2013 Delhi assembly elections on a Congress ticket, only to lose in the end. He had also declared his property to be ?160 crore in the affidavit filed for the elections. Similarly, N.D. Gupta is also a veteran chartered account who is said to have advised the Kejriwal government on its stand on the GST bill.
According to sources, Kejriwal had also considered former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, and former BJP leader and veteran journalist Arun Shourie for Rajya Sabha tickets. However, all of them refused and hence, the tickets were given to the newcomers.
What should one expect now?
Opposition parties have definitely got an opportunity to accuse Kejriwal of sidelining party leaders in favour of emerging businessmen. Yogendra Yadav has also trained his guns at Kejriwal by claiming that he had never expected that Kejriwal could be bought. It remains to be seen what Kumar Vishwas does in the aftermath of this decision. Not many leaders of AAP are likely to back Vishwas by risking their own image in front of Kejriwal, who has been the undisputed leader of the party.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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