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Two MLAs from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi appeared to have cross-voted in the presidential polls on July 17. Unlike other parties though, there was little speculation. The party hailed this as a sign that “BJP’s narrative” of AAP collapsing from within “was wrong”. Following the polls, the opposition BJP had claimed that AAP MLAs had cross-voted in favour of NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind, which was a “signal” of upheaval in the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Leader of Opposition, Vijender Gupta, who was the polling agent for Kovind, had gone on to say that AAP MLAs were deeply “anguished” with the stand taken by its top leadership. Soon after the voting started, BJP legislator OP Sharma claimed that “at least 10-12 AAP legislators were likely to vote for the NDA candidate” and it will become clear after the votes are counted on Thursday.
Whether or not, the party’s tailspin which began with defeats in Punjab Assembly polls and MCD polls along with two rebellions — one by Kumar Vishwas that was controlled and another by sacked minister Kapil Mishra — had only served to underscore that the AAP’s script was becoming increasingly frayed. The party now maintains that the tailspin has ended. There was a time, leaders said, as recent as May 2017, when it had appeared that anything between six and 21 MLAs were on the verge of rebelling.
“Even under the veil of a secret ballot and the comfort that the presidential poll offers, AAP went with its conscience and voted for the candidate it felt to be the best. It shows that the narrative which the BJP offered, maintaining that the AAP was internally fraught with tensions, is wrong,” said Saurabh Bhardwaj, AAP MLA and the party spokesperson.
Many maintained that sacked AAP minister Kapil Mishra, who claimed he “voted for the candidate who is all set to be the next president”, had voted for Kovind. The other, party leaders speculated, was former minister in the AAP government – Sandeep Kumar — who was sacked after a sex video allegedly involving him emerged in August 2016, and who had also campaigned for the BJP in the MCD polls held earlier this year.