In March last year, 65 AAP MLAs signed a two-page letter seeking the removal of party colleagues Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan for alleged anti-party activities. Two MLAS, however, refused to sign the document. One was Pankaj Pushkar, who came out as a party rebel in the following months and has openly sided with the Swaraj Abhiyan — a body founded by Yadav and Bhushan. The second MLA was Devinder Sehrawat, a former colonel in the Army.
Sehrawat, who is the Bijwasan MLA, had started out on a much stronger note in the party in 2013. Despite losing the 2013 Assembly elections from Bijwasan, he was given a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 from south Delhi, which too he lost. Sehrawat was then fielded from Bijwasan yet again in the 2015 Assembly polls and finally won.
Ever since he called for a press conference to announce his disapproval over the way Yadav and Bhushan were expelled, Sehrawat has been on a collision course with the party leadership and left out of most party meetings and responsibilities.
After he took on party chief Arvind Kejriwal during Yadav and Bhushan’s ouster, Sehrawat locked horns with Political Affairs Committee member Durgesh Pathak, who then served as the district coordinator overseeing party work in Bijwasan.
On Sunday, when Sehrawat wrote to Kejriwal hurling allegations at Singh and Pathak — who are overseeing the campaign in Punjab — and accused them of exploiting women on the promise of a party ticket, it was no surprise for the AAP leadership, only bad timing. Sehrawat also accused Dilip Pandey of doing the same in Delhi.
In the face of corruption charges against its former Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur and then an ‘objectionable’ CD featuring Cabinet minister Sandeep Singh, the AAP top brass had to call two emergency meetings in a week to decide the removal of both party leaders.
The opposition, meanwhile, has pounced on Sehrawat’s letter and lashed out at AAP. Both the Congress and the BJP hailed Sehrawat and Pushkar for standing up to the “wrongdoings” in the party and for “fighting for truth and justice”.
The question remains as to why Pushkar and Sehrawat have not resigned from the party in protest of the ‘wrongdoings’ or why the party has not taken disciplinary action against them. Both MLAs will lose their membership in the legislative Assembly if they voluntarily resign. But if they are suspended or sacked, they will go on to become Independent MLAs, pushing up the count of the Opposition from three to five.
A senior leader said, “If they have won on the party symbol, they cannot be working for someone else. They have to work for the party. If they really have objections, why don’t they just leave? It has been over a year and Pushkar has regularly been seen with the Swaraj Abhiyan. Why does he not leave the party?”
Another leader said, “Sehrawat has always been very self-centered and has an inflated opinion of himself. All these months, he has constantly been claiming that he can draw larger crowds than Kejriwal. That is absolute rubbish. That is why he has been kept away from party meetings or responsibilities.”