AAP struggles to Stay Afloat
Rivalries, sex scandals and desertions are taking a heavy toll on the Aam Aadmi Party, which, in its second year of government, seems to have lost its way
Shibu Kumar Tripathi Delhi
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing one of the harshest storms of its time in government, as party leaders fight over issues, projecting a sorry state of internal affairs. While the Delhi unit is falling apart under the pressure of rivalries, its Punjab branch is in chaos as veterans sprint towards Navjot Singh Sidhu’s recently launched political forum Awaaz-e-Punjab and the Goa division is gasping for breath ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections.
Social activist Anna Hazare took to the media to express his disappointment with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government following the unending row of controversies just as yet another allegation emerged, this time from Bijwasan MLA Devendra Sherawat. Sherawat, in a letter written to Kejriwal, accused the Punjab party head Sanjay Singh of exploiting women in return for election tickets, and the party of ignoring his regular complaints. Sanjay Singh retorted by threatening to file defamation charges against Sherawat.
While Kejriwal supported Sanjay Singh’s claim that Sherawat was hatching a conspiracy against him, he has been silent on the controversial sacking of his Cabinet Minister Sandeep Kumar.
Failing to address the issues at home, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached election-bound Punjab on a 4-day visit to mobilise volunteers and voters and was met by irate protesters questioning his silence on all the allegations against AAP
The party seemed divided on the removal of Sandeep Kumar after a CD surfaced with material showing him in compromising positions with two women. Kumar was arrested three days later, after one of them filed a complaint, claiming he had drugged and raped her a year ago. Following this, he was removed from AAP. The senior leadership patted themselves on their backs, praising the no-tolerance policy that sets them apart from other political parties.
While criticism came raining in from all sides, Sandeep got some relief from his party colleague Ashutosh, who in a blog post written for ndtv.com argued against the ousting of the minister, citing historical excerpts referring to Gandhi and Nehru. Ashutosh was later summoned by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to explain his post, as Kumar was produced in court following a three-day remand on Thursday.
Failing to address the issues at home, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached election-bound Punjab on a 4-day visit to mobilise volunteers and voters and was met by irate protesters questioning his silence on all the allegations against AAP. The Punjab unit is in turmoil following the sacking of its convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur on allegations of bribes. Chhotepur, a veteran politician who has worked with the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the past, is known for his staunchly independent views. Chhotepur is likely to join hands with Awaaz-e-Punjab, and speculations are rife that Chhotepur is going to take a number of other AAP leaders with him.
With all hands on deck, AAP is now in damage control mode. Kejriwal, in an attempt to establish his stand, alleged that many more CDs would appear in the election period and many more accusations would be hurled at AAP, courtesy of the Badals of the SAD, ruling Punjab in alliance with the BJP at present. The Delhi CM accused Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister and son of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, of creating forged CDs and disseminating them to counter the momentum gained by AAP.
Talking about the 2015 Delhi elections and the accusations that were levelled against the party, Kejriwal said, “The Punjab elections are going to be rough and a repeat of Delhi elections where many volunteers, party works and leaders will be attacked.”