A day after Aam Aadmi Party MLA and Political Affairs Committee (PAC) member Amanatullah Khan levelled allegations against senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas of being an “agent of the BJP” and trying to “split” the party, Khan stepped down from the party’s highest decision-making body.
The statements by Khan prompted sharp reactions from the pro-Vishwas faction within AAP, while Vishwas — also a PAC member — refused to attend the meeting slated for Monday evening at AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s residence unless Khan was expelled. Despite Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh reaching out to Vishwas in the evening to sort out differences, Vishwas skipped the PAC meeting. Khan tendered his resignation at the beginning of the meeting and left immediately.
“I will stick to what I have said so far. This person (Vishwas) had invited Ajit Doval and RSS workers for his birthday party. How is it that he did not think of AAP MLAs and volunteers then… at a time when the police, directed by the BJP, was arresting us and had launched a witch-hunt. Now he is talking about the greater good of the party… I still say he is an agent of the BJP and is trying to break the party,” Khan told The Indian Express.
“If being a member of the PAC means not being able to speak freely, and Vishwas and some MLAs feel I should step down, then I have no problem in doing so. I have tendered my resignation from the PAC… It is not that Arvind ji is unhappy with me, but I have decided to stand up for what is right.” Heated arguments continued throughout the PAC meeting as the top leadership remained divided on the issue. A section of the party backed Khan and hit out at Vishwas for making “out-of-turn” comments to the media on “Kejriwal being surrounded by yes men”.
Another section of the party backed Vishwas and called for Khan’s expulsion from the PAC for making “unsubstantiated” allegations. “On the issue of Vishwas, Khan has resigned and the party has accepted it. However, Vishwas, too, did not come for the meeting and has been issuing statements to the media even now… There is anger against that too within the party. Arvind ji is hurt by all this. I want to tell all party leaders that no one needs to go out and make statements. Whatever needs to be said should be raised within the party. Saare bayanbaazi se party ka nuksaan ho raha hai, Delhi ka nuksaan ho raha hai,” Sisodia said outside Kejriwal’s residence.
Throughout the day, AAP MLAs met Kejriwal and Vishwas to ease out the issue. Kejriwal drove down to meet Sisodia at his residence, and thereafter the Deputy CM and Singh reached out to Vishwas. “Allegations made by Khan are serious and if he is unable to show any evidence to back his allegations, he should step down and that is what he had to do finally. The party had owned up to its mistakes and was discussing and deliberating over ways to address that.
It was unjustified for Khan to suddenly make such allegations. Vishwas has never tried to usurp power,” said Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba. “There are just three main faces of the party — Kejriwal, Sisodia and Vishwas — and then there is the second rung of leadership. Kejriwal and Sisodia are handling the Delhi government, that needs a lot of work. All that was being demanded by a section of the party was that Vishwas be given a larger role, such as the position of co-convenor. No one has asked Kejriwal to step aside,” Lamba said. “BJP can keep dreaming of splitting the AAP but that is not happening,” she added.