Alarm bells went ringing in the Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday after reports emerged that three of its Delhi MLAs — Prakash Jarwal, Dharmendra Koli and Ashok Chauhan — were on their way to Goa to meet a senior BJP leader. The anxiety among the party leadership was such that the three MLAs were asked to return to the capital immediately.
Even as the party denied the “rumours”, a news report on Sunday afternoon — days after the AAP conducted a sting operation to expose BJP’s alleged horse-trading attempts — left party leaders worried, sources said.
“One of the three AAP MLAs had gone to Srinagar with Sanjay Singh, where another MLA turned up. A while later, both the MLAs could not be traced but we did not think it was an issue. Then, around 2-2.30 pm on Sunday, a news channel said these three MLAs were going to Goa to meet a senior BJP leader. This is when we raised the alarm,” an AAP leader said.
According to sources, the situation got worse when the party could not get in touch with any of the three. “We tried to contact them, but all phones were switched off. However, by 5 pm we spoke to one of them and told him to return immediately. They must be back by now,” the leader said.
When Newsline tried to contact Jarwal, MLA from Deoli, a disgruntled Ashok Chauhan (Ambedkar Nagar MLA) answered and said they were back in Delhi.
“We reached an hour ago (8 pm). We had decided to go on a trip to Goa. We did not even get out of the (Goa) airport because we were got a call from the party asking us to return immediately,” Chauhan said. Denying that the trip to Goa was made to meet a BJP leader, Chauhan said they were supposed to return on Tuesday.
Party sources, on the other hand, alleged that the MLAs had been asked to go to Goa since meeting in Delhi was going to be difficult.
Incidentally, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday evening had claimed that fresh attempts by the BJP to get AAP MLAs would be made in the next few days.
“I have come to know that because of the month of ‘shraadha’, they (the BJP) are lying low. On the first day of navratra, September 25, they will try once more. Modi ji has to go to America on the September 26. An attempt will be made before that. Moreover, once the elections take place in Maharashtra, around October 15-20, they will try to approach us again,” Kejriwal said.
AAP leader Manish Sisodia, however, maintained that the reports were an attempt to malign the party’s image. “The AAP has full confidence in its MLAs. There Congress and BJP MLAs go out of Delhi often. If three MLAs decide to go out together, it does not mean that they are walking out of the party. This is an attempt to bring down the AAP’s credibility,” he said.