New Delhi: In clear signs that no more rapprochement was possible in the AAP, dissident leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav on Friday launched a tirade against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose supporters accused them of being virtual BJP agents.
A day before the Aam Aadmi Party's National Executive meets in New Delhi, Bhushan and Yadav branded Kejriwal an autocrat surrounded by 'yes men' and accused him of deviating from the party's ideals.
The AAP hit back, accusing the two men of having tried to sabotage the party in the run up to the Delhi polls last month which it won handsomely. "They made efforts so that party loses... they told workers 'Let the party lose, it will be easy to remove Arvind'," AAP member Ashish Khetan said.
"When the party was fighting an existential war, two leaders were trying to weaken it and malign its image," he told reporters. "They tried to aid the formation of a BJP government."
Friday's war of words appeared to mark an end to whatever possibilities may have existed for the two camps to overcome their differences and shake hands.
Bhushan and Yadav said earlier that they were ready to give up all party posts if Kejriwal met their five demands -- including transparency within and autonomy to state units. They addressed the media after Kejriwal supporters hit out at the two overnight, claiming they had resigned from the National Executive. Both denied this. "We have never made any attempt to dislodge Kejriwal from his position in the party. The allegations ... are all feeble and baseless," said Yadav, a founder member of AAP like Kejriwal and Bhushan.
The main grouse of Bhushan and Yadav was that Kejriwal acted in an autocratic manner and refused to pay heed to dissenting voices in a party that was born in 2012 to give a new kind of politics to India. "We have warned and alerted Kejriwal against ill-advised and hasty moves and questioned him. Is that a crime for a party built on the principles of Swaraj?" asked Yadav.
A Supreme Court advocate, Bhushan alleged that Kejriwal wanted to form a government in Delhi with Congress support last year though the latter had been decisively rejected in the Lok Sabha election. He said five of the nine members of the party's Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the highest decision making body, opposed the idea.
But when Kejriwal insisted he would go ahead, the matter went to the National Executive which too vetoed the idea.
Yadav, a political pundit, said he and Bhushan were fighting to 'save the soul of the struggle' that gave birth to the AAP. "It is not an ordinary party, it was born out of a revolution to clean the system, end corruption and give power to the common people," Yadav said. "People have high hopes from this party. But the developments in the last one month have disappointed many."
Yadav said he and Bhushan had five demands - transparency in the AAP, autonomy for local units, a Lokpal probe into corruption charges against members, AAP should come within the ambit of RTI, and an end to secret ballot during election to key posts.
If Kejriwal accepted these demands, he and Bhushan would resign from all party posts, he said.
Since storming to power in Delhi last month with a brute majority, the AAP has been embroiled in an internal crisis that has pitted Bhushan and Yadav against Kejriwal, the party's best known face. The dissidents were earlier removed from the PAC.