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Monday, July 23, 2018

Kumar Vishwas vs Arvind Kejriwal: Fissures in AAP after infighting over Rajya Sabha nominations

Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi would be held on January 16 as the terms of the incumbent members, Karan Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Parvez Hashmi — all from the Congress — end on January 27.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2018 9:44:02 pm
Kumar Vishwas interacts with party workers at the AAP office in ITO on Sunday. (Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

As the Aam Aadmi Party declared the names of three Rajya Sabha nominees on Wednesday, Kumar Vishwas, one of the party’s foremost members, attacked Arvind Kejriwal, accusing the Delhi Chief Minister of ignoring a trusted friend and ‘punishing’ him for ‘speaking truth’.

The party, which was established in 2012 based on the core ideology of anti-corruption, showed signs of discord today. Kumar Vishwas, who has always been beside Kejriwal while dealing with party affairs, left no stone unturned today in launching a scathing attack on the AAP convener. He also alleged that Kejriwal doesn’t let any party member survive if he/she goes against his wishes.

HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED

The AAP on Wednesday nominated senior party leader Sanjay Singh, a Delhi-based businessman and a veteran chartered accountant, as its Rajya Sabha nominee. The decision was taken by the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the AAP, even as the meeting was skipped by Kumar Vishwas, who attacked party convener Arvind Kejriwal with statements laced with sarcasm, after deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced the names.

“Maine jo jo sach bola aaj uska puruskar dand swaroop mujhe diya gaya. Arvind ne mujhe muskurate huye kaha tha ke ‘sir ji aapko marenge par shaheed nahi hone denge’ main unko badhai deta hu ke main apni shahadat sweekar karta hu,” Vishwas was quoted as saying by ANI. (I have been ‘rewarded’ today for speaking truth. Arvind once told me smilingly, ‘sir you will be killed but we won’t let you become a martyr’. I congratulate him and accept my martyrdom.)

RELATED: Kumar Vishwas after AAP’s Rajya Sabha snub: ‘I accept my martyrdom’

Vishwas was talking to media soon after his party announced Rajya Sabha nominations. He said he has been punished for his honest views on various issues like transparency in ticket distribution, insult of AAP members, Indian soldiers and JNU.

The national executive and key member of AAP, who was eyeing a Rajya Sabha slot, did not attend the PAC (Political Affairs Committee) meeting. He is a member of the PAC. The poet-politician accused the AAP convener of dominating the party and ignoring its members.

“Main janta hu aapki (Kejriwal) icchha ke bina hamare dal mein kuch hota nahi, aapse asehmat reh ke wahan jeevit rehna mushkil hai. Main party, andolan ka hissa hu to ye anurodh karta hu ke shaheed to kardia par iss shav se chhed-chhaad na karen (I know that without your (Kejriwal’s) consent, nothing happens in our party and it is difficult to survive while disagreeing with you. I have been ‘martyred’, but I request you not to mutilate this martyr’s body now),” said Vishwas.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Singh was congratulated by Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba Singh for his candidature. She, however, refused to comment on the other two names.

Here is a look at profiles of the three faces nominated by AAP for Rajya Sabha:

* SANJAY SINGH- A mechanical engineer by training, Singh has been with Kejriwal since India Against Corruption agitation days. Singh was also Punjab’s poll-in charge recently. A former social activist hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur, he is counted among Kejriwal’s most trusted lieutenants.

* SUSHIL GUPTA– 56-year-old Gupta, who unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Delhi Assembly polls on a Congress ticket, has declared assets running over Rs 160 crore. He runs a chain of private and charitable schools and identified himself as an agriculturalist in the 2013 poll affidavit. He quit the Congress on November 28 last year.

* NARAIN DASS GUPTA- Gupta (72) is a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Past differences and infighting in AAP: 

This is not the first case that AAP members have expressed their displeasure over the Kejriwal’s dealing with party affairs. In past, Yogendra Yadav and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan distanced themselves from the party after differences with the party chief widened. Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were expelled from the Aam Aadmi Party in April 2015. Along with the two founding members, senior leaders Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were also expelled by AAP’s national disciplinary action committee which found all four guilty of anti-party activities. The AAP disciplinary committee had served a showcause notice to both Yadav and Bhushan, listing a number of allegations including a long-standing allegation that the two conspired in a bid to make the party lose the recent Delhi elections.

Political Reactions: 

Yogendra Yadav took to Twitter to express shock and disappointment after Vishwas was snubbed today. “I used to say, whatever his other faults @ArvindKejriwal cannot be bought. Defended him against Kapil Mishra’s allegations. Now I don’t know what to say. Speechless, ashamed and numb,” he said. Yadav also alleged that AAP has struck financial deals with Sushil Gupta.

Opposition BJP and Delhi Congress chief leader Ajay Maken also hit out at Kejriwal for choosing a businessman over a trusted friend. Delhi-based businessman Sushil Gupta was chosen by PAC over Kumar.

Maken went one step ahead by claiming that Gupta, a former Congress leader had Rajya Sabha offer when he quit the party last year. Ajay Maken tweeted that Sushil Gupta knew about his possible nomination as early as November. “Otherwise, Sushil is a good man known for his charity!” the Congress leader tweeted.

Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari attacked Kejriwal, saying the AAP has “betrayed” the people by nominating “two businessmen” for the polls to the upper house.

The AAP had reached out to Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, former union minister Arun Shourie, ex-Chief Justice of India T S Thakur for RS nominations. Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi would be held on January 16 as the terms of the incumbent members, Karan Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Parvez Hashmi — all from the Congress — end on January 27.

Kejriwal’s party enjoys a massive majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. It is set to win all three seats. The last date to file nominations for the three Rajya Sabha seats is January 5.

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