For a party that came to power on the plank of rooting out corruption, accusations against the supremo on the exact same plank have got to hurt, especially when the charges come from a former minister in your cabinet. But the Aam Aadmi Party has been uncharacteristically quiet about the allegations, spare a couple of press conferences, calling former water minister and Karawal Nagar MLA Kapil Mishra a BJP agent and reminding journalists that the party’s accounts have been twice audited by central agencies and cleared both times.
Party supremo, Arvind Kejriwal, whom Mishra accused of accepting Rs 2 crore as a bribe from health and transport minister Satyendar Jain, hasn’t said a word. There have been no salvos fired at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nor have there been any exposés on Mishra yet. The latest decision not to attack Modi seems to be holding. Only a tweet, attacking Mishra was posted from an account said to belong to Kejriwal’s wife — interestingly, the account is followed by both Kejriwal and senior AAP leaders.
Although clear lines have been drawn within the party, between the two factions led by Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas, MLAs remain undecided about whom to back. Kapil Mishra’s cheques, which have turned out to be the same ones shown by Bijwasan MLA Devinder Sehrawat in a press conference in September 2016, has assured the party that Mishra may not have anything new to hurt it with.
But AAP’s troubles are far from over. The string of losses — in Punjab, followed by the municipal polls in Delhi — means that party unity has become a mirage. Having come to power on the back of an apology to the electorate that it would respect and treasure its mandate the second time, AAP seems to have learnt little from its mistakes and remembers even less.
Certainly, much of the trouble is of its own making. AAP’s narrative that the Delhi government has been hamstrung by the Centre has not been accepted by the people. Work in the secretariat has come to a standstill. The bureaucracy isn’t keen on getting involved in another face-off between the Centre and AAP.
Charges of a high-handed coterie surrounding Arvind Kejriwal like fledgling moths to a burning flame persist, and haven’t been properly rebutted. Whatever else the BJP may or may not be accused of doing, fact is that AAP’s waters were roiling. The BJP only took advantage of that. AAP was supposed to embody the idea of the alternative. But it hasn’t lived up to the idea. In the people’s mind, one more Opposition party has bitten the dust.