AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, accused by their colleagues of orchestrating moves to unseat Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as the supreme leader of the party, were removed Wednesday from the key political affairs committee, their future roles uncertain.
While the party said that the two leaders would get new responsibilities, there was no clarity on what these would be.
They were voted out of the PAC 11-8 after a six-hour meeting of the AAP national executive. Of the 22 voters present, three abstained. The fact that eight voted for Bhushan and Yadav was a clear indication that the meeting didn’t turn out to be a one-sided affair as many assumed earlier.
The three who abstained were Kumar Vishwas, who chaired the meeting, Mayank Gandhi and Krishankant Sewada. Those who didn’t want Yadav and Bhushan to exit the PAC were Anand Kumar, Ajit Jha, Rakesh Sinha, Christina Samy, Subhash Ware and Ashawant Gupta — plus Bhushan and Yadav themselves.
Kejriwal’s offer to resign as AAP convenor was rejected “unanimously” — he did not attend the meeting.
Emerging from the meeting at a resort in Kapashera in southwest Delhi, Bhushan and Yadav said the “decision of the majority” would be conveyed by an authorised party representative.
Bhushan told reporters: “The AAP national executive has decided that Yogendra Yadav and I will no longer remain members of the PAC.”
Yadav said, “The national executive has taken a decision. As a disciplined party worker, I shall fulfill the responsibilities given to me.”
Minutes later, Kumar Vishwas stepped out with party general secretary Pankaj Gupta and said, “At the national executive meeting today, all members agreed that everyone is with the party.
We will all work together. We also discussed Mission Vistaar and discipline-related issues. The national executive also agreed that two senior members, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, will be released from their duties as members of the PAC and given new responsibilities, which will be decided. We also discussed the national council.”
The national executive meeting followed a bitter bout of fighting between factions, just weeks after the AAP pulled off a stunning victory in the Delhi assembly polls. That meeting set the stage for a week-long battle on social media in which Yadav and Bhushan were targeted by Kejriwal’s lieutenants.
It began last Friday at the first national executive meeting when some members raised objections against Yadav and Bhushan and alleged that they had indulged in “anti-party activities.” While Bhushan was criticised over the comments of his father Shanti Bhushan during the Delhi campaign, Yadav was attacked for allegedly leaking “damaging” information to the media. The AAP had even recorded a conversation last year with a journalist, Chander Suta Dogra of The Hindu (now with the Indian Express), without her knowledge and made the conversation public this week as “evidence” against Yadav.
Sources in the party said the vote was called after Bhushan and Yadav did not agree to tender their resignations. “The entire discussion revolved around this issue.” Sources said the party wanted Bhushan and Yadav to resign from the PAC. Both were offered other positions in the party to minimise the sense that the AAP was a deeply divided house, sources said.
“Kumar Vishwas was the mediator and spoke to the two leaders separately as well. Bhushan was told he could be the party’s legal head while Yadav was told that he could be convenor of a state such as Maharashtra. These announcements would be made publicly but they would have to resign,” sources said.
But Bhushan and Yadav stood their ground, reiterating issues that Bhushan mentioned in a letter to colleagues last week. Sources said both insisted on a vote to decide whether they should remain in the PAC. “A vote was called on who did not want Bhushan and Yadav to be removed from the PAC,” sources said.