In May came the Aam Aadmi Party’s underwhelming performance in the Lok Sabha elections. A sharp exchange between two senior party leaders spilled into public view in June, drawing attention to the ferment within. Now, the young party is roiled by yet more internal disturbance — and this time it is playing out in the open.
Yogendra Yadav, ideologue and leading light of the party, and one of the two leaders who featured in the letter war last month, has expressed his “disappointment” with the party’s decision — not yet final — not to contest the Haryana Assembly polls. Yadav’s disagreement comes on the heels of party chief Arvind Kejriwal going public with his own view that, in the immediate term, AAP must not broaden its focus from Delhi.
Given the unambiguous position of the party chief, who hails from Haryana and is also its star campaigner, the apparent lack of finality of AAP’s decision not to take the plunge in the state may be illusory. For the record, on Tuesday, the Haryana state executive lobbed the matter back to the party’s national executive, which meets next week for three days in Sunam in Punjab. But it would be safe to say that the AAP won’t be going to Haryana for this election.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Yadav pointed out that when asked to seek the opinion of party volunteers in June, the Haryana unit conducted meetings in 18 districts, with the questions and answers recorded in the presence of national observers, and 95 per cent said yes to contesting while 80 per cent wanted the party to contest all constituencies.
“It’s a strategic difference,” he says. “Arvind (Kejriwal) believes that contesting in Haryana or Maharashtra would affect our preparations in Delhi. That if we are not in a position to perform well in these states, we will bring down the party morale in Delhi. There is some truth to this.”
He spells out his own objections: “We have already won a 4.25 per cent vote in Haryana — almost 5 lakh voters. Once you have created space for yourself, you mustn’t vacate it. Once your voters go to someone else, they may not come back to you. Then what do you tell the volunteers, what should they do? Finally, if we do not contest a ‘difficult’ election, we invite the charge of running away again.” A new election is the AAP’s opportunity, he argues, to discover new leadership, expand its base and take up distinctive issues that no other party is taking up.
The apprehension about adverse results in other states continued…