Disgruntled AAP leader Kumar Vishwas says there is a need for AAP Version 2.0, prepared to apologise to Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav
Making a slew of comments on the internal machinations of the Aam Aadmi Party which are set to irk Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, disgruntled party leader Kumar Vishwas claimed, on Sunday, that there was a need to bring ousted AAP leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav back into the party’s fold.
The comments come as a stark volte-face for Vishwas, who along with AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and his confidante Manish Sisodia, was part of the brigade that purportedly engineered senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and activist Yogendra Yadav’s ouster from the Aam Aadmi Party two years ago.
On Sunday, Vishwas – who is known to be upset with Kejriwal for the latter’s apparent unwillingness of granting the poet-politician a Rajya Sabha berth – convened a meeting of party workers at the AAP headquarters in New Delhi. While the party’s senior leadership – Kejriwal, Sisodia, Ashish Khetan, Sanjay Singh, Gopal Rai and Deepak Bajpai – skipped the meeting, Vishwas addressed the media and made a slew of recommendations for “strengthening the party”.
“There is a long list of people who have quit the party over the past few years, including Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Why can’t we reconcile? We will say sorry if need be,” Vishwas said.
Vishwas also red-flagged the issue of dwindling crowds at AAP’s public functions and claimed that a party which could, till just three years ago, attract over five lakh people to its rallies at Ramlila Maidan was now “finding it difficult to even attract 5000 people for its fifth foundation day function”.
Reiterating his earlier criticism of the party that has often been termed as a ‘one-man show’ under Arvind Kejriwal, Vishwas said: “there is a lack of dialogue within the party… we have strayed from our path and core values.” He claimed that he had proposed Sunday’s meeting with party workers “in the midst of the entire party leadership” but added that “people who weakened the party became active after my announcement”
Though refraining from naming any specific party leader, Vishwas blamed a section of the AAP of “running a smear campaign” against him but added that he did not want to form a new party but simply wished to “take AAP back to its original values”.
That the party wasn’t too happy with Vishwas unilaterally extending an olive branch to Bhushan and Yadav – who since their unceremonious exit from AAP have often hit out at Kejriwal and have formed an alternative, non-political outfit called Swaraj Abhiyan – was evident from statements issued by party spokesperson Sanjay Singh.
“No one has reached out to them (Bhushan and Yadav), neither have they reached out to us. This could be Vishwas’ personal opinion,” Sanjay Singh said.
Prashant Bhushan too denied any possibility of reconciliation with AAP and instead hit out at Kejriwal’s party saying it had “betrayed all the ideals of the anti-corruption movement”.
Vishwas has been voicing his ire against the functioning of AAP under Arvind Kejriwal for several months now. Sources say that Kejriwal’s decision to reach out to “eminent personalities” from outside the AAP fold as probable party candidates for the three Rajya Sabha berths from Delhi has irked Vishwas.
The three Rajya Sabha berths, currently occupied by Congress leaders Dr Karan Singh, Janardhan Dwivedi and Pervez Hashmi, will fall vacant. While Vishwas has openly admitted that he wants to be nominated as the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate, sources said Kejriwal and Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia are not too keen on the idea. Kejriwal had earlier approached former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan with the offer of nominating him from one of the Rajya Sabha berths but the eminent economist turned down the offer claiming that he wanted to focus on his role as an academician at the University of Chicago in America.